Sophomore Alexzandria Dowdy scored a game high 16 points and juniors Justina Udenze and Leanne Crockett each recorded double-doubles, but Central Connecticut State University fell to Sacred Heart 54-49 at home Saturday afternoon. Udenze tallied 14 points and 13 boards, while Crockett finished with 12 and 10, respectively in the defeat. The Blue Devils fall to 5-11 and 2-4 in Northeast Conference play, while the Pioneeers, last year's NEC Champion, improves to 13-4 and 6-0 in league play.
Down 41-20 with 13:11 to play in the game, CCSU used a 24-5 run to make it 46-44 less than 10 minutes later. After a free throw by Sacred Heart junior Maggie Cosgrove made it 46-36, Central scored the next eight points to get within two points with 3:23 left in the game. Crockett hit one of her two three-pointers of the game to make it 46-39.
Junior Kerrianne Dugan made one of two free throws on the next possession, and then caught a pass in the lane and fed Udenze on the baseline with a one-touch pass. Udenze took one dribble and finished to make it 46-42 with 5:07 to play. After another defensive stop by the Blue Devils, Dowdy connected on a layup after spinning by her defender in the lane.
46-44 was as close as CCSU got, as SHU junior Alisa Apo went on a 5-0 run by herself to increase the Pioneer lead back to seven at 51-44 with 1:32 to play. Sacred Heart extended the lead to as many as nine before Udenze scored three of the final four points in the game to make it 54-49 at the buzzer.
The Pioneers started the game with a breakaway layup by Apo and scored the first seven points of the contest before Dugan hit junior Leanne Crockett for a layup in the lane to make it 7-2 just five minutes into the first half. Sacred Heart used a 13-1 run to extend its lead to 20-3 with only 6:18 remaining in the opening frame. Sophomore Callan Taylor was intergral in the stretch, tallying nine out of the 13 Pioneer points.
The Blue Devils kept pace with SHU for the next four minutes, and as they trailed 28-10, CCSU scored the final six points of the half to cut the Pioneer lead to 28-16 at the break. Udenze knocked down two jumpers in the paint, while Dugan was two for two from the foul line to get Central back into the game.
In addition to recording her third double-double of the season, Udenze's one block in the game tied her for third place in CCSU annals for career blocks. The Hamden, CT native is tied with former Blue Devil Katherine Kelsey with 69 blocks in her three years at Central. Crockett's double-double was her team-leading fifth of the season. Dowdy added four rebounds and three steals to her game high 16 points on Saturday.
Taylor finished with a team high 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pioneers. Apo wasn't far behind, recording 12 points, five assists and five steals in the victory.
Central Connecticut and Sacred Heart will play again on Thursday, January 21 at 5:00 p.m.