STOP #8: Detrick Gymnasium, New Britain, CT
Saturday, March 2, 2013 – 2pm
Robert Morris Colonials (7-20, 6-10) at CCSU Blue Devils (14-13, 8-8)
Watch on NEC Front Row
CCSU Game Notes
RMU Game Notes
The hourglass on the 2013 NEC women’s basketball regular season is beginning to run empty. Just one weekend, two games, remain on the schedule. Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s, and St. Francis Brooklyn have already locked up the first six spots in the eight team field, leaving four teams still alive in battle for the final two spots. Saturday’s Central Connecticut State/Robert Morris game will go a long way in helping determine who will receive those final postseason slots.
The Blue Devils have a conference record of 8-8, two games better than Fairleigh Dickinson, Bryant, and Robert Morris. A Central win would officially lock up a playoff spot for Coach Beryl Piper and her team, while in the process it would put Robert Morris’ hopes on serious life support. Robert Morris’ playoff future is a little bit more uncertain. The Colonials lose the head-to-head tiebreaker against FDU, and even though they beat Bryant earlier in the year, they will still see the Bulldogs one more time in the regular season finale. The NEC Tournament doesn’t officially begin for another eight days, but it’s safe to say that Saturday’s showdown in New Britain contains all of the makings of an actual playoff game. Robert Morris and Central are two teams fighting just to make the party. Saturday’s winner will take one step closer to the ultimate goal, while chances are Saturday’s loser will be forced to watch the rest of March Madness from the outside looking in.
ALL TIME SERIES
The Colonials have dominated the recent history between these two schools, winning 14 out of the last 16 meetings to take a 16-11 lead in the all-time series. RMU has won the last five straight encounters, including a 65-48 win in the 2013 conference opener back on January 5th in Moon Township. Lou Mataly led Robert Morris with a game high 19 points on the afternoon, while junior Kaley Watras paced CCSU with 15 points of her own. Central is looking for their first win over RMU since a 76-63 home victory at Detrick Gym back on February 7, 2009.
The two schools have only been matched up against each other once in postseason play, back in the 2005 NEC Tournament quarterfinals, with the Colonials coming away with a 72-39 victory. The win marked the Colonials first playoff win eight years. It was the start of a journey that would lead them to the 2005 finals, and eventually the tournament championship in the two ensuing seasons. 2005 NEC Player of the Year Sugiery Monsac would lead the Colonials with 26 points in the win. Robert Morris held the Blue Devils to just 39 points, the fewest points allowed in a NEC Tournament game at the time.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: CCSU (5th – 60.2), RMU (10th – 55.8)Scoring Defense: CCSU (4th – 59.8), RMU (8th – 62.8)
Field Goal %: CCSU (4th - .385), RMU (10th - .355)
Field Goal % Defense: CCSU (1st - .357), RMU (10th - .395)
3 point Field Goal %: CCSU (10th - .271), RMU (5th - .312)
ABOUT THE BLUE DEVILS
After a run of three straight seasons in the NEC Tournament semi-finals from 2009-2011, the Blue Devils just missed out on the eight team playoff party by a single game in 2012. Looking to make a return to the postseason for an eighth time in program’s Division I history, the Blue Devils can clinch a tournament spot with a victory on Saturday against Robert Morris. The Blue Devils 2013 regular season has been a year of runs so far. The team was swept in their conference opening PA road trip, only to return home to sweep all five games of a five game homestand. That was followed up by a five game losing streak, which led directly into a three game winning streak. Due to the winter storm, Central’s schedule underwent a massive reconstruction to fit the makeups in. The team recently was forced to complete a stretch of six games in 13 days. The Blue Devils are led by the Babe sisters, Jaclyn and Jessica. CCSU senior Jaclyn Babe leads the team, and is 5th in the NEC in scoring with 15.4 points, and had also contributed 7.0 rebounds per game, good for 6th in the league. Her sister Jessica averages 8.7 points and 3.9 assists per night. On the inside, Kirsten Daamen has put together a solid senior season, averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 rebounds, while standing second in the NEC (behind RMU’s Anna Gailite) in blocked shots.
Last Monday, the Blue Devils saw their three game winning streak come to an abrupt end at the hands of their interstate rivals, the Sacred Heart Pioneers. CCSU was able to hang with the Pioneers for the much of the first half, leading 18-14 with eight minutes remaining until the break. However, SHU managed to close out the period on a 21-2 run, taking a 35-20 lead into the half. In the second half, CCSU was not able to cut the deficit back under double figures, and eventually would go down in defeat, 61-39. Leading scorer Jaclyn Babe was held to just four points on 2 for 13 shooting. The stifling Sacred Heart defense forced 34 Blue Devils turnovers, which led to 30 points. CCSU was limited to a season low 39 points on the evening.
ABOUT THE COLONIALS
The Colonials run of eight straight NEC Tournament appearances appears to be in jeopardy, as Robert Morris enters the final weekend looking to fight off two other teams for the eighth and final NEC playoff spot. RMU started the season 0-10, their longest winless drought to start a campaign under longtime head coach Sal Buscaglia. After returning only one starter from 2011-12, the Colonials suffered several key injuries to some of their few key returnees early in the season. Most recently, freshman guard Lou Mataly injured her knee in late January and hasn’t played since. RMU had a stretch in early February where they won three out of four games to even their conference record at 6-6, but their lack of depth has caught up to them. The Colonials rely on just a seven to eight player rotation, with their starters playing a huge bulk of the minutes, and thus gassed toward the crucial closing minutes of games. Freshman guard Randi Jackson, who was inserted into the lineup seven games into the season when Jasmine Tate went down for the year, played all 85 minutes of action last weekend, and has been on the floor for all but four minutes of the team’s last six games. Another freshman, Italian born Ashley Ravelli, has done her part as well. Ravelli was recently named the NEC Choice Hotels Rookie of the Week after averaging 16.5 points last weekend against the NEC’s two New Jersey institutions. Ravelli leads all freshmen in scoring, averaging 10.4 points per game, and has made 56 threes, third best in the conference.
On Monday night, the Colonials dropped their fourth straight game, a 60-48 loss to the Monmouth Hawks, in their home finale. RMU would come out strong, leading by as many as nine points in the first half, but MU managed to shoot themselves back into the game. In particular, Gaby Singer, who connected on six of seven shots from the floor in the first half. Singer would net 18 first half points and eventually finish with 21 on the night. Singer would also connect on seven three point baskets for MU. Two minutes into the second half, the Colonials managed to cut the deficit to as little as five points, but went the next eight minutes without a field goal, allowing the Hawks to improve their advantage on the scoreboard well into double figures and put the game out of reach. Artemis Spanou recorded 25 points and 18 rebounds, her nation's leading 24th double-double of the season, and her 22nd in a row. Ravelli was the only other RMU player in double figures, with 12 points. The trio of point guard Randi Jackson, Ravelli, and Spanou played a combined 117 minutes out of a possible combined 120.
ODDS & ENDS
This year’s CCSU team is tied with the 2001 club for the fifth most single season victories in program Division I history with 14. Under coach Beryl Piper, CCSU has recorded three of the program’s top six single season win totals…Over the last 10 seasons, every team that has won at least 8 NEC wins has qualified for the NEC Tournament. In the 13 seasons of an 18 game conference schedule, only one team, the 8-10 St. Francis Red Flash in 2001, has won 8 NEC games and failed to make the playoffs...Senior Jaclyn Babe transferred to CCSU following two seasons at Duquesne. Babe has scored 846 career points in a Blue Devil uniform and 1,037 overall in her entire collegiate basketball career...CCSU has played five overtime games in 2012-13, going 4-1 in those contests...Central is 11-1 when leading at halftime, and only 3-12 when trailing at intermission...The Blue Devils are 9-3 at home this year at Detrick Gym, including 6-1 against NEC opponents.
With two blocks against Monmouth on Monday night, senior Anna Gailite set the RMU single season block record with 55. Gailite also has recorded 164 career blocks, one shy of matching Kim Mong for the Colonials all-time career blocks record. Gailite will be matched up against Central’s Kirsten Daamen, who became her school’s all-time career blocks record holder last season as a junior...RMU junior Artemis Spanou became the first Colonial to record 400 rebounds in a single season. Spanou, the national leader in rebounding with a 15.4 average, earlier this season became just the second Colonial in school history to record 1,000 career points and rebounds. She stands third on the RMU career points list and second in career rebounds...Out of the ten players on the RMU roster, six hail from outside of the United States, including three out of the team's five starters.
AROUND THE NEC
With most of the NEC women’s basketball playoff seeds already sewn up, now the teams will spend the final weekend of the regular season jockeying for position in the NEC standings. Obviously, the top four is the place to be, as a top four seed ensures home court in the first round of tournament play. In the last two seasons where the NEC has featured the current “higher seed hosts” format, the home team has won 87.5% of the time in the quarterfinal round and 85.7% of the time including all three rounds.
Saturday afternoon features two matchups pitting teams trying to secure home games against teams that are still trying to get into the field. First, the Bryant Bulldogs will host the St. Francis Red Flash in Smithfield, RI. St. Francis, coming off an incredible 100 point outing on Monday night against FDU, will be able to clinch a first round home game with a win. The 100-89 victory marked the first time since 2008 that a team reached the century mark in conference play. Senior guard Kelly Doogan had never scored more than 14 points in a single game, but with many of her teammates under the weather, Doogan lifted the team with a career high 35 points and equaled the team record with eight threes in the game. The Bulldogs, who are eligible for the NEC Tournament for the first time since completing their four year transition period from Division II, can move one step closer to locking up a playoff spot with a win of their own. The Bulldogs have managed to knock off the Red Flash in the only two prior NEC meetings at the Chace Athletic Center, in 2010 and 2012.
The second key game will be Fairleigh Dickinson hosting Mount St. Mary’s. The Knights have been to the NEC Tournament four out of the last five years, but currently find themselves in a fight for the final playoff spot with Bryant and Robert Morris. Mount St. Mary’s hasn’t hosted a tournament game since the entire 2002 tournament quarterfinals and semifinal rounds were held at the Knott Arena. The Mount controls their own destiny as far as a first round home game this year is concerned. They can clinch a top four seed by sweeping FDU and Monmouth over the weekend in the Garden State.
Elsewhere, in a possible first round tournament preview, the Sacred Heart Pioneers visit the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers. It was at Sacred Heart in early January, the first game of the conference season, where the Terriers began their resurgent season with a 56-47 upset victory over the reigning champions. St. Francis will once again try to earn their ninth conference victory of the season, which would tie the program record for most NEC wins in a single season, and clinch their first non-losing conference season since finishing 9-7 in 1987.
The Quinnipiac Bobcats will bring their perfect 16-0 conference record into Brooklyn this weekend with history directly in their sights. QU, who has already clinched the regular season title for the second time in program history, stands just two wins shy of becoming the sixth NEC women’s basketball team to run the table and record a perfect NEC regular season. To do that, they will have to get through LIU Brooklyn on Saturday and then the SFC Terriers on Monday night.
Finally, in West Long Branch, the Monmouth Hawks will honor their six seniors with ‘Senior Day’ festivities prior to their game against the Wagner Seahawks. The Hawks, in the hunt for a top four seed, will look to handle the upset-minded Seahawks, who come in following a victory over the Terriers last Monday night.