The Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year, Beryl Piper, and the Central Connecticut women's basketball team host the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds for a NEC Quarterfinal round game today at 2 p.m. inside Detrick Gym. It marks the third meeting this season between the first seed Blue Devils (18-11, 14-4 NEC) and the eight seed Blackbirds (9-20, 6-12 NEC). The winner today will move on to play on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in the NEC Semifinal game, which will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.
Today's Game • The first-seed Blue Devils (18-11, 14-4 NEC) begin their quest for their first ever Northeast Conference Championship on Sunday with a 2 p.m. NEC quarterfinal contest against the eight-seed LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds (9-20, 6-12 NEC) inside Detrick Gym. The Blue Devils will try to fend-off the Blackbirds from becoming the second ever eight-seed to defeat the first-seed in NEC Tournament history.
Series History • Despite the Blue Devils picking up a pair of victories this season, the Blackbirds hold a slight advantage in the all-time Division I series history, 17-13. CCSU is 5-9 against LIU Brooklyn under the direction of head coach Beryl Piper and Piper is 2-4 against the Blackbirds in Detrick Gym.
Earlier This Season • Today's game marks the third time the Blue Devils and Blackbirds will meet this season. Central topped LIU Brooklyn in both meetings this season, recording a 75-70 victory at home back on Jan. 19 and a 68-54 win in Brooklyn on Feb. 2. In the first meeting this season, the Blue Devils overcame a 41-32 halftime deficit to the Blackbirds, scoring 43 second-half points, fueled by 14 second-half points from junior TeJahne Malone. Malone finished with 19 points and senior Amanda Harrington added 15 points and 12 rebounds to log her third double-double of the season in the win. On Feb. 2 in Brooklyn, the Blue Devils controlled the entire game as they never trailed and were led by senior Kaley Watras and freshman Camden Musgrave who finished with 12 points a piece.
NEC Regular Season Co-Champions • The Blue Devils finished the regular season in a tie for first place with the Bryant Bulldogs to earn a share of the Northeast Conference regular season championship. The title marks the first time in program history the Blue Devils have finished on top of the NEC regular season standings.
#1 Seed • Following the Blue Devils 21-point victory over FDU on Saturday, Feb. 28 and a Bryant loss, CCSU officially clinched the first seed in the 2015 NEC Tournament. The Blue Devils held all of the possible tie breakers by sweeping the fourth-seed Sacred Heart Pioneers to assure them the first seed and home court advantage throughout the tournament.
Scouting the Blackbirds • The Blackbirds enter the 2015 NEC Tournament as the eight-seed after finishing the regular season 9-20 overall and 6-12 in the NEC. LIU Brooklyn finished tied for seventh in the NEC standings with Mount St. Mary's, but the Mount owned the tie breaker by topping CCSU back on Jan. 12. The Blackbirds are currently on a two-game slide, dropping their last two contests 78-71 in overtime at Sacred Heart and 73-49 at home to Saint Francis Brooklyn. LIU finished the regular season sixth in the conference in scoring offense, averaging 67.2 ppg and tied for eighth in the NEC in scoring defense, allowing 71.8 ppg as a team. The Blackbirds are led by Second-Team All-NEC Sophie Bhasin who averages 15.6 ppg. The Blackbirds also had a NEC All-Defensive Team representative in Letava Whippy, who controls the glass for LIU, averaging 7.2 rpg and leads the team with 66 steals on the season.
NEC Honorees • Junior TeJahne Malone was named Second-Team All-NEC, freshman Camden Musgrave was named to the NEC All-Rookie Team and head coach Beryl Piper was named the Brenda Reilly NEC Coach of the Year on Friday afternoon in a vote amongst the league's coaches. Malone marks the fourth All-NEC Second-Team selection and Musgrave is the third NEC All-Rookie Team honoree under the direction of Piper. The Coach of the Year award for Piper also marks the first in her tenure.
Last Time Out • CCSU dropped a tough 55-53 decision on the road to Bryant in the final regular season game of the year. The Blue Devils battled back from being down by 14 with 8:56 to play in the game, to have a chance to tie or take the lead on thir final possesion. However, a tough scoop shot from sophomore Aleah Epps caromed off the side of the rim as time expired and the Blue Devils were unable to complete the comeback in Smithfield, RI. The loss gave Bryant a share of the regular season crown with CCSU, but the Blue Devils still remained the number one seed in the tournament. Freshman Camden Musgrave led Central in the game with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the floor.