Central Connecticut Ends Historical Season with First Round WNIT Loss at Boston University
Appearing in postseason play past a conference tournament for the first time in its history as an NCAA Division I program, Central Connecticut (18-14) lost, 79-60, against Boston University (25-7) in WNIT first round action at Case Gymnasium. The Blue Devils, who have the best turnaround in the nation this season, were led by sophomores Kerrianne Dugan and Leanne Crockett and freshman Shontice Simmons. Dugan had her second double-double of the season, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds. Crockett and Simmons each added 17 points.
"This entire season has been a tribute to the players," CCSU head coach Beryl Piper said. "We might prepare them, but they are the ones who make the big plays at all the right times. It's a step for our program. I am so proud, because people are starting to have a better understanding of Central Connecticut women's basketball."
Central Connecticut led 41-38 at the half, but the Terriers went on a 16-0 run to turn a 45-40 deficit into a 56-45 advantage in the early stages of the second half. The run grew to 24-3, giving Boston University 16-point lead with 7:00 left to play in the game. The margin grew to as much as 22 points before the game's end. The Terriers shot 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) in the second half.
"It was a tale of two halves," Piper said. "Their four seniors wanted to wear their uniforms again. They just really came out strong in the second half, and we couldn't recover."
The first half featured four ties and 11 lead changes, the last going in CCSU's favor. Trailing 35-34, Central Connecticut ended the half on a 7-3 run to take the 41-38 halftime lead. Simmons scored five points during the final stretch. She had 15 for the half, while Dugan added 10 points and seven rebounds. The Blue Devils shot 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) from the floor. That included a 5-of-7 (38.5 percent) mark from three-point distance. They also made all 12 of their free throw attempts.
Junior Aly Hinton led the Terriers with 13 points and five rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. She made three triples. Boston University hit 5-of-13 (38.5 percent) three-pointers as a team.
"I really felt Hinton hurt us in the first half," Piper said. "She created some match-up problems for our zone."
Simmons hit two three-pointers to give CCSU an early 6-4 lead. The Blue Devils led 14-11 before an 8-0 Terrier streak put the hosts ahead by five points with 13:07 left to play in the opening half. Central Connecticut countered with an 8-0 stretch to regain the advantage. The game was tied at 24-24 when CCSU rattled off another 8-0 run. The runs continued, as Boston University ran off nine unanswered to go in front 35-34 before the Blue Devil closing stretch.
Terrier senior Kristi Dini had four three-pointers during the 24-3 second half run. She finished with a game-high 18 points. Hinton added 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior P.J. Wade and sophomore Justina Udenze were the only other Blue Devils to score. Wade had six points and three rebounds. Udenze totaled four points and four rebounds. Boston University scored 20 points to CCSU's zero off the bench.
The Blue Devils finished the game with a 38-25 rebounding advantage. Crockett added eight rebounds and four steals to her line. CCSU senior Jhanay Harris had three rebounds over 14 minutes in her final game.
"It's tough to say goodbye to Jhanay," Piper. "I only had her for two years, but I know this program is going to miss a person like her."
Central Connecticut ends its season with an 18-14 record. Boston University will move on to face Boston College in WNIT second round play on Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m. BC will host the contest.
"This game lets us know we can compete with good teams," Simmons said. "It gave us a taste. Now it's time to start preparing for next season."
"It says a lot about us and our heart," she added. "This season's improvement is such a big deal, but we know we can accomplish more next season."
NOTE: Central Connecticut had not played past conference tournament action since joining the NCAA Division I ranks in 1986-87. The Blue Devils reached the NCAA quarterfinals during their final season (1985-86) at the NCAA Division II level. Piper was a member of that team.