NEW BRITAIN - Itâ€™s no surprise CCSU womenâ€™s basketball head coach Beryl Piper stressed the importance of finding consistent scoring Monday afternoon.
The Blue Devils shot just 39 percent from the field in their 64-57 loss to Robert Morris adding onto a tough stretch that has seen the team drop seven of its past eight. But while Piper is still searching for more scoring options, at least the head coach can rely on senior Kiana Patterson.
Patterson led the Blue Devils (4-12, 1-5 NEC) with 15 points on Monday while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc, in what both Piper and Patterson considered to be a frustrating day.
Of course, after Patterson dropped 27 points in Saturdayâ€™s win against Saint Francis, itâ€™s harder to see Mondayâ€™s game as the solid individual performance that it was. On top of Pattersonâ€™s 15 points, she also contributed four assists in an effort to get the offensive engine revving.
With the consistent production of Patterson, who ranks fifth in the NEC in scoring, Piper has been forced to lean on her senior while the rest of the Blue Devils find their way offensively. At times, like late in Mondayâ€™s loss, Piper can see the physical toll of the minutes Patterson has played at times this season.
â€śWeâ€™re asking a lot of her,â€ť Piper said. â€śWhen we play Saturday and Monday, itâ€™s always tough for a kid like that who plays a lot of minutes. Your body breaks down a little bit.â€ť
Patterson logged 36 minutes on Monday after playing 34 in Saturdayâ€™s 27-point outburst. She has played under 30 minutes just twice so far this season (29 and 28), all adding up to 32.5 minutes per game, good for seventh in the conference. If the heavy work load is taking a toll, Patterson isnâ€™t showing it, at least not in the scoring column. Over her past 11 games, Patterson is averaging 17 points, as she continues to settle into a shooting groove.
â€śIâ€™m getting the ball in good positions, in spots where Iâ€™m open,â€ť Patterson said of her recent play. â€śMy post players have the ability to find me on the perimeter, and Iâ€™ve had the ability to knock down some shots.â€ť
Patterson has rewarded her post players by showing exceptional court vision of late, recording nine assists over the past two games while turning it over just three times.
â€śSheâ€™s found ways to hit some 3s and score some baskets for us,â€ť Piper said. â€śSheâ€™s getting the ball to her teammates too. We need her to play big every night. We really do. She gets us going.â€ť
Patterson plans on keeping the Blue Devils going through conference play, and toward the teamâ€™s ultimate goal come March. As NEC play hits its stride, Patterson plans on doing the same. So far, sheâ€™s right on schedule.
â€śConference play is so important,â€ť Patterson said. â€śThis is what matters. This is what gives us the opportunity to play in an NCAA Tournament, which is what weâ€™ve always dreamed of. I know it starts with me as a leader, not only through scoring, but trying to assist and play great defense while still having that ability to score points here and there.â€ť