Fairfield, CT - Freshman Ericka Norman (Chino Hills, CA) hit a long range three in traffic that would have forced overtime but the horn sounded just before she could pull trigger as Central Connecticut State picked up a 65-62 victory over Sacred Heart Monday night. The Pioneers shot 46.9 percent (23-49) from the floor but the Blue Devils took advantage of the rebounding battle, pulling down 36 boards to 26 for SHU. Callan Taylor (Overland Park, KS) led Sacred Heart with 12 rebounds and six rebounds.
Central Connecticut State (9-7, 2-4 NEC) got the first basket of the game on a Kirsten Daamen layup. The Blue Devils took an early 9-5 advantage 4:15 into the game as Alexzandria Dowdy hit one of CCSU's four treys of the half. Later in the first half the Pioneers would engineer a 10-2 run, which including a pair of Blair Koniszewski (Vienna, VA) three's, to give SHU a 19-14 advantage.
Sacred Heart (10-7, 4-2 NEC) earned its largest lead of the first stanza at 21-14 with six minutes remaining in the half as Taylor hit a mid-range jumper. Central Connecticut State would battle back and even the game at 25-25 on a pair of Kerrianne Dugan free throws. Rachel Chandler hit a long ball for CCSU and the Blue Devils added three more free throws to take a 31-27 lead heading into the final possession of the half. SHU narrowed the deficit to 31-29 at the intermission as Enjoli Bland (Queen Creek, AZ) got an offensive rebound and tipped-in a loose ball at the buzzer.
The Pioneers held the Blue Devils to 35.7 percent (10-28) shooting in the opening twenty minutes. But CCSU went 7-of-9 at the free throw line in the first half while Sacred Heart was unable to get to the charity stripe.
Maggie Cosgrove (Andover, MA) tied the game with a jump shot that rolled around the rim on the opening possession of the second half. The Blue Devils then went on a 9-1 spurt, which ended on a Dowdy three-pointer, to take a 40-32 lead. After the Pioneers closed to within five Dugan and Jessica Babe stuck back-to-back mid-range jumpers to increase the CCSU cushion back to nine at 51-42.
The Pioneers then found success driving to the basket as Kiley Evans (Cazenovia, NY) and Alexis Campbell (Ashburn, VA) each completed a conventional three-point play to bring SHU to within three at 55-52. Two minutes later Cosgrove would bury a trey to knot the game at 55-55 with 4:20 remaining in regulation. Gabrielle Oglesby put CCSU back on top 60-57 as she went to the rim for a layup and a foul with 2:53 on the clock.
Taylor brought the Pioneers back to level again at 60-60, the eighth tie of the game, as the junior struck from beyond the arc for the second time on the night. Oglesby got a lay-in on the next Blue Devil possession and SHU missed an easy layup on their next trip up the floor. Dowdy hit the first free throw of a one-and-one opportunity but would misfire on the backend. However, Leanne Crockett secured the offensive rebound for CCSU.
Central Connecticut State would again go just one-for-two at the foul line but made it a two possession game at 64-60 with 47 seconds left. Taylor kept the Pioneers in the game as she grabbed an offensive rebound and finished a tough layup to make it 64-62, CCSU, with 29 seconds remaining.
After Dugan misfired on the frontend of the next CCSU one-and-one Cosgrove came up with the rebound, allowing head coach Ed Swanson to call his last timeout and draw up a potential game tying play. The Pioneers got the ball to Taylor inside but her layup was blocked and CCSU secured the loose ball. Crockett had a chance to ice the game for Central Connecticut State but she could only hit one free throw to make it 65-62.
Norman rushed the ball up the court with 5.5 ticks remaining and after being bumped by two Blue Devils fired a deep three that hit all net. But the referees correctly waved off the basket and Sacred Heart ultimately fell 65-62. The Blue Devils have now won three straight against the Pioneers, including two in a row in the Pitt Center.
The Pioneers had eight players score at least five points, with Taylor (12) and Evans (11) reaching double figures. Sacred Heart returns to action this Saturday as they travel to Staten Island, NY for a meeting with the Wagner Seahawks.