Freshman Shontice Simmons had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists to lead Central Connecticut (17-11, 12-5) in a 79-68 Northeast Conference loss at Quinnipiac (17-10, 10-7). Sophomores Leanne Crockett, who made four three-pointers, and Kerrianne Dugan and freshman Gabrielle Oglesby each added 12 points for the Blue Devils.
The first 12-plus minutes of the opening half was tightly contested. Central Connecticut led 3-2 early on and was tied at 14-14 with 9:58 remaining in the opening 20 minutes. Senior Erin Kerner gave Quinnipiac a 17-14 lead with a three-point play, but Crockett answered with her second first half three-pointer to tie the game for the second time. The Bobcats followed with a 14-2 run, stretching their lead to double-digits. They led 36-25 at the break.
Crockett and sophomore Justina Udenze each had six points for the Blue Devils, who connected on just 6-of-25 (24.0 percent) shots. Udenze also had seven rebounds. Senior Mandy Pennewell led Quinnipiac with 10 points and six rebounds.
Quinnipiac stretched its lead to 20 points, 60-40, over the first 10 minutes of the second half, but CCSU responded with a 20-9 run to draw to within single-digits at the 1:19 mark. Crockett hit her fourth three following a pair of free throws from Bobcat senior Brianna Rooney to cut the margin to eight, 71-63, with 1:10 left to play. The Blue Devils would stay within eight points, trading an Oglesby layup for two Kerner free throws, before Simmons hit a three-pointer to make it 75-68 with 25 seconds remaining. That would be as close as Central Connecticut would get. Kerner made four free throws over the final seconds to seal the win.
CCSU improved its shooting in the second half, making 18-of-36 (50 percent) from the floor. Udenze finished with six points and seven boards, while freshman Christie Leverette had four points, three rebounds, three assists and three assists in 17 minutes off the bench. Kerner (23), Pennewell (16) and Rooney (16) combined for 55 points on their senior day. Pennewell also had 12 rebounds and four assists, while Kerner totaled five assists and four steals.
Simmons eclipsed the Central Connecticut NCAA Division I single-season freshman record for double-digit scoring performances (20) previously held by Racquel Bailey. Bailey had 19 in 1987-88
Central Connecticut will close out its regular season with a 7 p.m. home contest against Monmouth on Monday, March 2. Jhanay Harris, CCSU's lone senior, will be honored prior to the start of the game.