The Central Connecticut men's basketball team won when it needed
to on Saturday afternoon. With the 68-56 victory over St. Francis
(NY), the Blue Devils earned their 12th consecutive trip to next
week's Northeast Conference Tournament. With the win the Blue
Devils improve to 12-17 overall and finish league action 9-9, good
for seventh place. They will play on Thursday night at Robert
Morris in the first round of the NEC Tournament.
The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half and and was tied twice. Neither team led by more than five at any point in the half. Both teams struggled from the field in the first half and it was the Terriers who held the slim 27-24 advantage. Central hit only 8-of-27 from the field and 2-of-10 from three in the half. St. Francis (NY) hit 10-of-24 from the field, but 4-of-8 from three in the half, led by Stefan Perunicic who had a game-high 13 at the break. Seymore led the Blue Devils with nine points in the half.
St. Francis (NY) took a 10-point second half lead, 39-29, with 14:52 on the clock, before the Blue Devils started to come alive after the break. Central responded with a 14-3 run over the next four minutes to take a 43-42 lead with under 11 minutes to play in the half.
The Terriers took a 50-45 lead with 6:41 on the clock, but this time Central answered in a big way. The Blue Devils scored 10 straight points to take a 55-50 lead. They outscored St. Francis (NY) 23-6 in the final 6:36 of the game to claim the victory and advance to the tournament. St. Francis (NY) hit just one field goal in the last 6:40 of the game, and that was a three-pointer with 12 seconds to play.
Junior Shemik Thompson led the second half surge for the Blue Devils, scoring 18 of his 21 after the break. He added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists in the victory, as the Blue Devils won for the seventh time in the last 10 games.
Central outrebounded St. Francis (NY) 36-32 in the game. They have outrebounded eight of their last 10 opponents and are 7-1 in those games. After starting the conference season 2-6, Central won 7-of-10 to finish league play.
Seymore became the 31st player in school history to record 1,000 career points. He hit a three in the second half to reach the milestone. He finished the game with 12 points and five rebounds. Freshman Joe Efese added 13 points and a pair of blocks for the Blue Devils.
Central advances to the NEC Tournament next Thursday night at Robert Morris. They are participating in the league tournament for the 12th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the NEC.