FDU 80 Central Connecticut 75 (OT): Numbers and Observations

Teaneck, NJ - It was quite a day to say the least. FDU coach Stephanie Gaitley celebrated her birthday with an 80-75 overtime victory over Central Connecticut at the Knights’ Bogota Savings Bank Center. Thursday’s victory improved FDU to 4-2 (6-13 overall) in Northeast Conference play. Central Connecticut dropped to 2-4 (4-15). FDU is now in third place in the conference, a game behind Sacred Heart and LeMoyne, both tied at 5-1. The Knights visit Sacred Heart in their next contest on Saturday afternoon.

Opening numbers. A look at the start of the game and the all important first four minutes following intermission. The first period ended with Central Connecticut on top 15-12. Each team utilized 16 possessions with the visiting Blue Devils finishing with a 94-75 edge in offensive efficiency.

The first four minutes of the second half saw Central Connecticut ‘win’ by a 6-4 count. That expanded their two point halftime lead to four at 29-25.

Momentum. It can be fleeting and sometimes fickle. Central Connecticut tied the game on a Samora Watson three pointer with seconds remaining in regulation. They opened the overtime scoring and appeared to have the momentum on their side. FDU’s Abby Conklin answered with a three pointer to regain the lead and alter her team’s mindset. Conklin’s three was still very early in the extra session yet had a significant impact. "That was huge for us," Gaitley said. "No doubt. It might have been our biggest shot of the game."

Gaitley noted, following Watson’s game tying three to force overtime, her team returned to the bench with looks of worry and concern. "I told them this is what it’s all about," Gaitley said. "Five more minutes, just go out there and compete." They took the advice.

Fouling ahead by three. This is an issue debated in coaching circles. Opinions vary straight down the line. FDU was ahead by three with seconds remaining in the game. Watson of Central Connecticut pushed the ball up the floor. Ahead three do you foul or not? Gaitley decided not to foul, Watson buried a shot beyond the arc, Overtime.

"I never foul in that situation," Gaitley said. "I feel they can hit one, miss the second, grab the offensive rebound and kick it out for a three." Given her emphasis on defense it wasn’t surprising to hear the coach’s theory, besides, she added,"I always trust my defense to get the stop."

Rebounding. The game was won on the boards. FDU outrebounded the Blue Devils 50-39, offensively the Knights enjoyed a 20-10 advantage. The offensive rebounding percentage saw the Knights with a 41-25% edge. A percentage of 40% or greater is considered outstanding. "Rebounding was the difference," Central Connecticut coach Way Veney lamented. "It was something we emphasized and worked on to be ready. We needed to do a better job boxing out."

Effort. No moral victories are acceptable. Regardless, Veney was pleased with the effort of her club. The Blue Devils were coming off a home loss to LIU on Sunday. "That (LIU) game was not who we are," the coach said. "We really did not have a good effort in that game. Tonight we competed like we should and want to every night out." Veney also noted life in the very balanced NEC with its upsets and surprises means, "you need a short term memory."

Players of note:

Samora Watson, Central Connecticut’s 5’6" sophomore guard scored a game high 35 points. Her lone three pointer, as noted, was a big one. Watson constantly broke the FDU defense down with penetration in the lane. She also led the Blue Devils with eight rebounds.

Lily Parke, FDU. The junior forward scored 33 points prompting Gaitley to remark," I didn’t realize Lilly Scored that many." Parke hit a succession of big shots, including three from beyond the arc. Parke also added eight boards for the Knights.

Belle Lampher. The Blue Devils 5’5" senior guard, Lampher contributed 20 points. Lampher buried four three pointers and was an inside/out threat despite playing injured. "Belle turned her ankle the first half,," Veney said. "She basically played the second half and overtime with a sore ankle." Lampher ‘toughed it out’ playing 36 minutes on the night.

Teneisha Brown, FDU’s senior center posted a 13 point, 14 rebound double-double. A force under the glass, Brown‘s 14 boards were a game-high as were her seven on the offensive end.

Final thoughts. Abaigeal Babore (16 points) and Conklin (11) both logged 45 minutes for FDU.

There were six lead changes and seven ties in the contest.

Central Connecticut enjoyed a 36-28 advantage in points in the paint. Credit Watson for a large part of that difference.

FDU led 15-6 in second chance points.

Central Connecticut shot 41% from the floor, FDU 34%. As noted, offensive rebounding made a big difference for the Knights.

FDU committed only seven turnovers. Central Connecticut was guilty of 12.

Offensive efficiency saw FDU enjoy a 105-99 edge in a 76 possession game. FDU is averaging 83 on the season, Central Connecticut 82.

NEC officiating observer Steve Rubinaccio was in attendance for evaluation of the crew.

Former Fordham player Raniat Griff, who played for Gaitley when she was beginning to reverse the fortunes on Rose Hill, was also in attendance.

Post game there was a cake and birthday celebration with the FDU players and family for coach Gaitley on her birthday.

Samora Watson, Central Connecticut’s 5’6" sophomore guard scored a game high 35 points. Her

Momentum. It can be fleeting and sometimes fickle. Central Connecticut tied the ga me on a Samora Watson three pointer with seconds remaining in