NEW BRITAIN - The CCSU womenâ€™s basketball team played a strong first quarter, trailing Yale by four points.
Then the second quarter began and with it, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach with strong defense, forcing turnovers and as a result completed a 28-6 second quarter to go into the half up 41-18.
That big point differential led to a 75-62 Blue Devils loss on Saturday afternoon.
â€śI think their pressure hurt us,â€ť CCSU head coach Beryl Piper said. â€śWe had seven turnovers in a row that really hurt us in the second period. If we took care of the ball a little bit better, the game would have been different.â€ť
When CCSU did have the opportunity to generate offensive possessions, the team struggled to set up an offense.
â€śIn the first half I think we were rushing the ball, especially in our press break,â€ť CCSUâ€™s Morgan Johnson said. â€śWe couldnâ€™t get it and were turning the ball over and they were getting too many steals. We werenâ€™t playing our type of basketball.â€ť
Yaleâ€™s Jen Berkowitz and Ellen Margaret Andrews both scored in double digits, leading the Bulldogs on offense. Berkowitz was 4-for-6 shooting with 11 points while Andrews was 4-for-5 with 10 points in an efficient half for the duo. Berkowitz finished with 16, Andrews had 14.
Blue Devils point guard Kiana Patterson led the team in scoring with five of its 18 points. Patterson finished with a game-high 22 points.
Rebounding also was big as Yale made its presence felt down low with 21 first-half rebounds compared to just seven rebounds for CCSU.
While the second quarter was heavily one sided, the Blue Devils came out with a strong second half.
â€śWe talked about a different way with a little tweak for breaking the pressure,â€ť Piper said. â€śWe talked about attacking them from the middle because so that was a big thing that we talked about at halftime.â€ť
The adjustments paid off with CCSU outscoring Yale 44-34 in the second half.
It was better defensive play and 3 pointers that led to the Blue Devils turnaround over the final 20 minutes.
Defensively, the Blue Devils switched up from playing man-to-man defense to playing a trap zone defense, resulting in more pressure on the Yale guards.
â€śOur defense led to better offense because we started to put more pressure on them and to not give them easy shots,â€ť Piper said. â€śI think that kind of got us going and got us more into our rhythm in order to shoot the three.â€ť
After going just 2-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half, the long distance shot helped CCSU provide offense making eight three pointers at a 75 percent clip and spreading the ball around more with better offensive ball movement.
â€śI think they started playing us more in zone,â€ť Patterson said. â€śWe have a couple good zone offenses to get open 3s. We also got the ball inside a lot in the second half which made the defense collapse and make it more open for our outside shooters.â€ť
The Bulldogs finished with four of their five starters in double digits. Roxy Barahman had 12 and Tamara Simpson finished with 10 points to go along with Berkowitzâ€™s 16, Andrewsâ€™ 14.
For CCSU, Patterson finished off the second half with 17 points. Johnson was second on the team in scoring with 12 points as the two were the only double-digit scorers for the Blue Devils.
CCSU was out rebounded 44-26 in the game and turned the ball over 18 times.
With the loss, CCSU still is looking for its first win and now sits at 0-9 on the season.
â€śWe just need to play good basketball for four quarters,â€ť Patterson said. â€śWe canâ€™t play well for three or we wonâ€™t win. Especially against a team like Yale thatâ€™s pretty good. And we play Stony Brook and Vermont. So we have to play good basketball for four quarters before we get into conference play so we can build our confidence and get some wins under our belt.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan