Blue Devils Snap Sacred Heart's 27 Game Northeast Conference Win Streak
Four Blue Devils scored in double figures for the first time this season as Central Connecticut State University (6-11, 3-4) snapped Sacred Heart's (13-5, 6-1) 27 game win streak against Northeast Conference opponents with a 67-64 victory on the road. Junior Leanne Crockett led Central with season highs of 20 points and four three-pointers as CCSU broke a 17 game losing streak against the Pioneers. Alexzandria Dowdy tallied 14 points, seven assists and three steals, while juniors Kerrianne Dugan and Justina Udenze chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After Udenze fed senior P.J. Wade for a jumper that made it 49-45 CCSU with 8:31 to play, a three-pointer by Sacred Heart's Callan Taylor and a steal followed by a traditional three-point play by reigning NEC Player of the Year Alisa Apo gave Sacred Heart the lead at 51-49. The Blue Devils then went on a 11-5 run made up of two free throws by Dugan and three-pointers by Wade, Crockett and senior Emily Rose that put Central back up by four at 60-56 with 3:54 to play.
After free throws by SHU's Maggie Cosgrove and Taylor, Dowdy snuck up behind Apo, stole the ball and then finished the break away layup to make it 62-58. Taylor then went to the line and converted both her free throws. On the next play down court Dowdy drove the lane and found Crockett in the corner for her fourth three of the game to make it 65-60 with 46 seconds left to play. Apo came right back and scored on a layup to cut it back to a three point CCSU lead at 65-62. Cosgrove came up with a steal in the Blue Devil backcourt and the Pioneers called a timeout. After the two teams came off the benches it was Apo again that cut it to a one point lead with 18 seconds left.
It took three consecutive successful in-bounds plays by CCSU and three consecutive fouls by Sacred Heart before the Blue Devils got the ball in to Dugan who was subsequently fouled by Apo. The junior forward went to the free throw line and knocked down both from the charity stripe to give Central a 67-64 lead with 13 seconds to play that would end up the final score in Fairfield.
To start the game CCSU got on the board first with a perfectly executed backdoor layup by Crockett. Freshman Kirsten Daamen faked out top and then hit Crockett for the wide open bucket. After Dugan made it 3-0, hitting one of two free throws, Sacred Heart scored eight straight points to take an 8-3 lead. Consecutive steals by Wade and Dowdy led to two straight breakaway layups for Dowdy, which got the Blue Devils within one at 8-7.
After back and forth action throughout the first half, Central took its first lead since 3-0 when Wade knocked down a jumper from the baseline with two seconds to play in the opening frame. She gave CCSU a 28-27 lead at the break. Crockett and Dowdy led the Blue Devils in the first period with 10 and nine points, respectively. CCSU shot 35.5 percent from the field, while holding the Pioneers to a 32.4 shooting percentage. The Central defense held Apo to zero field goals and only two points in the first half.
Sacred Heart was led by Taylor with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Apo finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. Cosgrove knocked down three from beyond the arc on her way to an 11 point night. The Pioneers shot only 37.5 percent from the floor and were 10-17 from the free throw line.
Crockett led CCSU with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Dowdy added 14 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals. Udenze tied for the team lead on the boards, grabbing nine, and added 10 points, three blocks and two steals. Her three blocks moved the junior forward into third place in CCSU history for career blocks with 72 in her three seasons. Dugan chipped in with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in the victory. Wade finished with nine points on four of eight shooting for the Blue Devils.
CCSU shot 44.1 percent from the floor and hit over 40 percent from beyond the arc for only the second time this season, thanks to Crockett's four out of six attempts. The Blue Devils missed only one free throw, knocking down eight of nine from the line.
With the 67-64 win, the Blue Devils dropped Sacred Heart from its undefeated conference spot. The Pioneers were 6-0 this season in NEC action and went 18-0 a year ago. Sacred Heart also won three straight during the league tournament to win the 2009 NEC Championship.
Central will stay in the nutmeg state for a road tilt with Quinnipiac on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. The Blue Devils have lost their last 18 meetings with the Bobcats and will look to change that common result this weekend.
The 2009-10 men's and women's basketball seasons are brought to
you by Farmington Bank.