Sophomore David Simmons matched his career high with
16 points in a 75-67 Central Connecticut (13-15, 8-9) Northeast
Conference home loss against Monmouth (8-22, 6-11). Simmons, who
was 6-of-9 from the floor, also had six rebounds. Freshman Robby Ptacek added 15 points and three
assists for the Blue Devils, who will close out the regular season
at Quinnipiac on Saturday, Feb. 28. Opening tip is scheduled for 4
p.m. and will be televised live on NESN.
The NEC playoff scenario for the Blue Devils will be decided on Saturday. A win over Quinnipiac would give CCSU the #5 seed and they will play at #4 Long Island. A loss by CCSU will give the Blue Devils the #6 seed and they would play at #3 Sacred Heart.
Central Connecticut used a 16-2 run to build a 14-point first half lead, 24-10. Sophomores Ken Horton and Shemik Thompson, and Marcus Palmer, who was honored as CCSU's lone senior prior to the game, all connected on three-pointers during the stretch. Monmouth, though, battled back late in the half. Trailing 32-21 with 3:47 left to play, the Hawks trimmed the deficit to 34-30 by the break. A three-point play by freshman Will Campbell with 1.1 seconds remaining ended the scoring.
Campbell (10) and freshman Travis Taylor (11) combined for 21 first half points. Ptacek had six to lead the Blue Devils. CCSU was outrebounded, 21-17, but turned eight Monmouth turnovers into 14 points. Both teams shot 12-of-29 (41.4 percent) from the field.
Simmons kept the Blue Devils in front at the start of the second half. He scored the team's first eight points and 10 of the first 12 to make it a 47-36 contest with 14:43 left in the game. Senior Alex Nunner countered for Monmouth. He had two three-pointer during a 15-6 Hawk run that cut the margin to 53-51. The Blue Devils held on to the lead until another Nunner triple tied it at 60-60 with exactly five minutes left to play.
Thompson answered Nunner's three with one of his own on Central Connecticut's next possession, and the Blue Devils took that lead to the 2:17 mark. However, Nunner hit his fourth three-pointer of the half to give Monmouth its first lead, 68-67, since going up 2-0 to start the game. CCSU did not score the rest of the way, and the Hawks made 7-of-8 at the free throw line.
Nunner, who had 18 second half points after going 0-of-4 from the field and 1-of-2 at the line in the opening half, finished with 19 points. Campbell and Taylor each had 20 points. Thompson added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a 2-of-2 effort from distance, for the Blue Devils. CCSU shot 25-of-57 (43.9 percent) from the field, while Monmouth hit on 26-of-58 (44.8 percent) attempts. Both teams were 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) on three-pointers.
Central Connecticut will close out the regular season at Quinnipiac on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. The fifth seed in the upcoming NEC Tournament will go to the winner of that contest. The game will be televised live on NESN.