The Central Connecticut women's basketball team concluded its 2016-17 campaign at Robert Morris falling 70-62 in the Northeast Conference semifinal game on Wednesday, March 8 inside Charles L. Sewall Center in Moon Township, PA. The Blue Devils out-scored #1 RMU 22-17 in the final quarter, led by a 13-point performance from senior Aleah Epps, who ended the game with 15 points. Fellow senior Giocelis Reynoso recorded a double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds in her last career game.
CCSU ends the year with a 11-21 and 9-10 in the league, while Robert Morris advances to the Northeast Conference Championship game on Sunday, March 12 at home against #4 Bryant, with a record of 22-10 and 15-4 in the NEC.
Central shot 23-for-55 (41.8%) from the floor and the Colonials finished 24-for-56 (42.9%) on the night. The Blue Devils held a 38-32 advantage on the boards, and made 81.3% (13-of-16) of their foul shots.
Allison Park, Pennsylvania native, Lydon drained the Blue Devils first seven straight points, draining a kick out three on her very first touch of the game on a kickout from Reynoso. Freshman Cebria Outlow made an immediate impact off the bench with 6:42 on the clock, grabbing three offensive rebounds in the quarter.
The two teams fought neck-and-neck in the opening 10 minutes of play, with Central making 7-of-17 (41.2%) and Robert Morris shooting a nearly identical, 7-of-18 (38.9%).
Outlow started the second quarter with a jumper in the lane, and a steal from Robert Morris' back up point guard, Jalynn Burton-Jones, while sophomore Kiana Patterson finished the play ahead in transition, taking a 19-16 lead over the 2016-17 regular season champions. The Colonials responded with a 9-0 run that began with a three-pointer from Anna Nikki Stamolamprou at 8:54.
The Blue Devils battled right back with seven consecutive points led by a series of challenging shots and hustle plays to knot up the score at 25-25 with five and half to go before the halftime break. Reynoso ignited the spurt with an offensive put-back, followed by a break-away basket off a pass from Patterson. Freshman Taylor Goode completed the run by powering home a lay up over the Robert Morris defender on the first possession out of the media timeout.
CCSU shot 45.2% (14-of-31) and Robert Morris was 14-of-30 (46.7%) in the first half. Lydon led the Blue Devils with seven points, and RMU led by just four points, 33-29, at the break.
After combining for just nine points in the first six and a half minutes of the third quarter, the Colonials went on a 9-3 run, and opened up a 10 point advantage. The Blue Devils gave up seven possessions in the quarter with Epps on the bench with foul trouble.
Trailing by 13 points, Central switched to a full-court zone press that caught Robert Morris off guard for two Colonial turnovers to start the final period. Lydon fueled CCSU's momentum with a step-back three-pointer, cutting the lead to 53-45, forcing a timeout.
With Robert Morris in the bonus with 5:40 to go, Epps converted 2-of-2 from the free throw line cutting the lead to 55-50, which was as close as the Blue Devils would get to upsetting the defending champs.
NNeka Ezeigbo led the Colonials with 18 points and Stamolamprou added 15. Lydon and Outlow finished with 10 points each for CCSU.