Central Connecticut State University alumna Beryl Piper returns for her ninth season as the head coach of Blue Devil women’s basketball. The 1987 graduate is the winningest women’s basketball coach of CCSU’s Division I era with 112 career victories. She has also led CCSU to four Northeast Conference Tournament Semifinals (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015) and two WNIT post-season appearances (2009, 2015) in her tenure. Piper enters 2015-16 with a career record of 112-128 over eight seasons.
Last season marked one of the most successful seasons for Piper and the CCSU women’s basketball team. For the first time in program history, Piper led CCSU to a share of the Northeast Conference regular season crown, finishing in a tie for first place on top of the NEC standings with Bryant at 14-4. The 14 wins in NEC regular season play marked the most in program history and Central returned to the NEC Tournament for the fifth time under Piper’s watch.
After falling to St. Francis Brooklyn in double overtime of the conference semifinal (71-63), CCSU went on to make their second ever post-season appearance, in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) against Fordham. The Blue Devils finished the year 19-13 overall under Piper’s direction, tying the second most wins in a season in program history at the Division I level. Piper’s effort also resulted in her first Brenda Reilly Northeast Conference Coach of the Year award in 2015 and she also saw junior TeJahne Malone earn Second Team All-NEC honors and freshman Camden Musgrave was a NEC All-Rookie Team selection.
The Blue Devils missed the post-season in 2013-14, but senior Jessica Babe capped her career by becoming the fourth Blue Devil to earn All-Northeast Conference honors during Piper's tenure. Babe was a Second Team All-NEC and NEC All-Defensive Team selection following her senior season. Babe was also a CoSida Academic All-District First Team selection in 2014.
In 2012-13, Piper led the Blue Devils to the NEC Tournament for the fourth time in her career. CCSU tied for fourth in the conference standings and entered the eight-team field as the #5 seed. Following the season, Jaclyn Babe was named First Team All-NEC and was a CoSida Academic All-District First Team selection. Babe became the first player under Piper to earn first team honors from the NEC. The Blue Devils finished the season with 16 victories, the fifth highest season total in CCSU's Division I history.
In the 2011-12 season, the fifth under Piper, the Blue Devils finished 13-16. The 13 wins marked the fourth consecutive double-digit victory season for the Blue Devils and helped the team to the best four-year record in program history. During the season, junior Jaclyn Babe scored 446 points and earned second team All-NEC honors. Her classmate, Kirsten Daamen, became the Blue Devils' career leader in blocked shots and by seasons end she had run her total to 140 blocks.
Piper led the Blue Devils to 19 wins in 2010-11, which was the highest win-total for the program since joining the Northeast Conference for the 1997-98 season. Piper also led her team to 11 conference victories and the third NEC Tournament victory of her career. By reaching the NEC Tournament, the Blue Devils set a new program best by making the postseason three straight years.
The Blue Devils won 12 games in 2009-10, including eight conference games and earned the sixth seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament. It was the Blue Devils second consecutive NEC Tournament berth. Piper's squad upset third seeded Sacred Heart 63-51 to advance to the semifinals before falling to Long Island University 61-55. Central's back-to-back tournament berths were the first since 2004-05 and 2005-06.
In the second season under Piper, CCSU finished with the best turnaround in the nation, improving from four wins in 2007-08 to 18 wins in 2008-09. Central finished with a 12-6 record in the Northeast Conference and was the second seed in the NEC Tournament. After falling to St. Francis (PA) in the conference semifinals (73-62), the Blue Devils were selected to play in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. It marked the first time in the school's NCAA Division I history that the team qualified for post conference tournament playoff action.
Piper collected her first collegiate victory at Stony Brook on Dec. 12, 2007, leading the Blue Devils to a 61-59 win. She earned her first Northeast Conference win on January 7, 2008 as CCSU defeated Wagner, 62-54, on the road in overtime. The first win of Piper's career in Detrick Gymnasium followed a week later when Central defeated St. Francis (PA), 72-64. Piper’s most recent milestone came on Jan. 10, 2015 when she recorded her 100th career victory with a 63-46 win over Robert Morris in Detrick Gym.
In addition to Malone, Musgrave and Jess and Jaclyn Babe, Piper has guided two other players to NEC postseason honors. In 2009, sophomore Kerrianne Dugan earned the first All-NEC honor during Piper's tenure, a second team selection. Dugan was also the first Blue Devil to earn conference accolades under Piper's guidance, receiving all-rookie team honors after leading the Blue Devils in points, rebounds, assists and steals in 2007-08. Shontice Simmons garnered all-rookie team accolades after leading Central in points, assists and steals as a freshman in 2008-09.
CCSU President Jack Miller and recently retired Director of Athletics Charles, C.J., Jones announced Piper as the fourth women's basketball coach in University history on Tuesday, June 12, 2007. Piper, a 1999 CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, joined the Blue Devils after spending 19 seasons as the head coach at nearby New Britain High School.
"I was very pleased to welcome Beryl Piper back to Central Connecticut State University," Miller said. "As an alumna, she has a great passion for our university and our women's basketball program. Coach Piper has a remarkable winning record and is a champion. I'm sure she can develop a winning formula for the future of CCSU's women's basketball."
Piper guided the Golden Hurricanes to three state titles, compiling a 289-151 record. New Britain won its first in 1998 and added back-to-back championships over her final two seasons. Beginning in 1998, Piper also won seven consecutive Central Connecticut Conference South Division championships. She added two north division crowns in her last two seasons there.
Piper's New Britain team finished the 2006-07 season with a 22-3 record en route to winning a second consecutive Class LL state championship. A Trumbull, CT native, Piper was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association 2007 Coach of the Year. Additionally, she was presented with the 2007 Merit Award by the CIAC Girls Basketball Committee and was named the 2007 Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Doc McInerney Coach of the Year in a female sport. In 2008 she was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame.
"This was the perfect time for me to make this transition," Piper said at the time of her hiring. "Central Connecticut gave me a chance to be a player and now is giving me a chance as a coach. I feel I worked hard to become successful as a player. As a coach, I will use the same work ethic to make the University and community proud of the women's basketball program."
Piper was a three-sport athlete at Trumbull High and is now a member of the school's hall of fame. She then went on to attend CCSU, where she played basketball under the legendary Brenda Reilly.
A four-year player and co-captain of the 1985-86 women's basketball team, Piper helped lead the Blue Devils to a 24-4 mark as a senior. That team, which reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, holds the record for most wins all-time and best winning percentage in program history.
Piper also participated in Blue Devil softball. As a senior, she won the Gail Rutz Award as CCSU's outstanding female student-athlete. She went on to play professionally for Team Blarney in Ireland, where she was part of the 1986-87 national championship team.
In addition to being one of 12 women's basketball members in the Central Connecticut Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame, Piper has received the Rebecca McCord Award for Athletic and Academic Excellence from the University.
She earned her master's degree in health education from Southern Connecticut in 1991 and completed 30 credits beyond her master's in 2003 at the University of Hartford.
Piper, who also served as a physical education teacher at New Britain High, began her coaching career as a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach at Northwest Catholic High School in 1987-88, during which the varsity team won a state title. She moved on to New Britain for the following season, inheriting a 0-20 team. She concluded her run at NBHS with 11 straight winning seasons. Over her last 10 seasons, Piper compiled a 200-49 record.
The ninth-year coach resides in Burlington, CT.