Saint Peter's 61 Central Conn. St. 57: First win wasn't easy

To the casual fan the result from Run Baby Run Arena in Jersey City may have not meant a great deal. Saint Peter’s 61 Central Conn. St. 57. To those closely following or part of Saint Peter’s program, this was more than a result from the second Monday in November. This was big and a long time coming. This happened to be Saint Peter’s first victory since March 8, 2022, a 49-29 victory over Marist in the MAAC tournament.

That Summer Marc Mitchell left Saint Peter’s to take over at the University of Indianapolis. Jennifer Leedham was hired by Saint Peter’s. Coming on board late in the Summer is difficult. The roster is set. You have to fill out your staff and literally get to know your players in a few short weeks leading up to practice.

Needham went through an arduous 0-30 season last year. Her team dropped a few close games and despite going winless, never quit and kept working, in practice and games. A native of Great Britain, Needham utilized her contacts and international coaching experience to bring in some overseas talent.

The first game this season saw a competitive 56-44 loss at UMass, leading up to last night’s victory. The numbers:

Possessions: 76

Offensive Efficiency: Saint Peter’s 80, Central Conn. St. 75. Good defensive effort, numbers wise, by both teams.

Notable of the Four Factors, Saint Peter’s led the way with a 31-19% difference in offensive rebounding percentage.

Turnovers, a major problem last year, (their rate was 28% 361 out of 361 teams) saw the Peacocks forced into an ungodly 30% TO rate.

Turnovers, as well as shooting 6 of 14 (43%) from the line, will undoubtedly be addressed in practice. Saint Peter’s did show great resolve. Something that cannot be a simple measure in the numbers. After a 12 point halftime lead was reduced to a one possession game in the final minutes, the Peacocks didn’t panic, persevered and closed it out.

Central Connecticut, under first year head coach Way Veney deserves a world of credit. Coming off a long season several players vouched on Northeast Conference media day that this would be a different team. Hard working with the right mindset. They showed both battling back from that aforementioned double digit deficit. Their full court trapping pressure defense ensured the Blue Devils would not go away. It was still a oned possession affair before Saint Peter's senior guard Rachel Kuhl scored her only two points on a layup with seconds remaining that iced the contest.

Samora Watson of Central Conn. St. led all scorers with 18 points. Reilly Sunday and Jada Williams scored 12 each for Saint Peter’s. Williams also added 3 blocked shots, including a last second attempt by the Blue Devils.

Little time to celebrate as Saint Peter’s (1-1) travels to Illinois to face the Illini on Wednesday. Central Conn. St. (0-3) visits Bryant on Friday.