Central Connecticut outscored Long Island 34-27 in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 13 point halftime deficit as the Blue Devils fell to the Blackbirds in the Northeast Conference semifinals in Loretto, PA this afternoon. Junior Leanne Crockett and sophomore Alexzandria Dowdy led CCSU with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Central finishes the season with an overall record of 12-18 after falling in the NEC semifinals for the second straight season.
The Blue Devils held Long Island scoreless for the first 4:51 of the game and got out to a 4-0 lead. Junior Justina Udenze connected on a post move before senior P.J. Wade knocked down a jumper from the left wing to get Central out to the early lead. LIU fought back and the two teams traded baskets until the Blue Devils held a 17-16 advantage with 8:50 to play in the first half.
The Blackbirds then scored the next 10 points and continued on to a 17-2 run over a six minute period to extend their lead to 13 at 32-19. Junior Chelsi Johnson and freshman Krystal Wells connected on back to back three-pointers during the stretch, before sophomore Ashley Palmer finished the half with the Blackbirds' final six points to give LIU a 34-21 lead at the break.
LIU got out to its largest lead of the game early in the second half as they led 41-27 with 15:24 to play. The Blue Devils went on an 11-2 run to make it 43-38 with 11:38 to play. Crockett, who has recorded the most three-pointers in a single season at CCSU with 57 this year, ignited the run with two straight shots from beyond the arc. After a layup by LIU's Kiara Evans, Dowdy finished the run with a driving layup and a triple of her own.
The Blue Devils got as close as three on four separate occassions. The first came with 10:02 to play when Wade hit six straight CCSU points. The senior connected on a traditional three point play with a driving runner in the lane and then knocked one down from beyond the arc to make it 49-46 in favor of the Blackbirds.
CCSU made its final push with just over two minutes to play when Crockett countered a basket and free throw by Palmer with her fourth triple of the game to pull within three at 58-55 with 2:06 remaining. LIU scored three more from the charity stripe to close it out down the stretch and finish with the 61-55 victory and advance to the NEC Championship game.
Four Central players finished in double figures led by Crockett and Dowdy with 16 and 15, respectively. Wade and junior Kerrianne Dugan also tallied 10 points in the defeat. Crockett and Udenze led the Blue Devils with eight rebounds, while Crockett was also tops with three blocks.