Seniors Leanne Crockett and Justina Udenze combined for 20 of the Blue Devils 27 points in the second half as the Central Connecticut women's basketball team defeated Sacred Heart, 54-49, in the opening round of the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Blue Devils improve to 19-10 on the season, they advance to the NEC Semifinals for the third consecutive season.
The Blue Devils opened up the first half on fire, going 8-10 to start the game. Central built a 17-7 lead during the run, it was opened by a three pointer from junior Gabrielle Oglesby to start the game. Senior Kerrianne Dugan was the big scorer on the run dropping in six points.
The Pioneers answered quickly running off a 13-0 run that gave their team the lead at 20-17.
Central answered when freshman Jessica Babe drove the lane, was fouled, but still made the basket. She converted the old fashion three point play to tie the game at 20-20. The Blue Devils ran off a 10-2 run to finish the half ahead 27-22. Udenze dropped in the final three points of the half, with a layup and a free throw.
Dugan was the high scorer in the first half with 10 points. Babe and Udenze each had five in the period as four Blue Devils totaled 20 of the team's 27 points.
In the second half Udenze and Crockett took over the game. After not scoring in the first half Crockett connected on four of five shots in the second including a pair of threes. Udenze had five in the first but scored ten points in the second, including hitting four of six from the free throw line. Udenze and Crockett combined for 20 of the Blue Devils 27 points.
Central sealed the game in the final 15 seconds. Crockett inbounded the ball at midcourt with under 15 seconds left in the game. Her pass found Dugan cutting to the basket for an easy layup to put the game out of reach at 54-49.
Udenze finished with a game-high 15 points, she also had a team-high eight rebounds. Dugan finished with 12 points and Crockett had 10 all in the second half. Crockett led the Blue Devil defense after the break with three huge blocks, two of which forced Sacred Heart into shot clock violations.
This is the second year in a row that the Blue Devils have defeated Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals. They will travel to St. Francis (PA) for the semifinals with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.