Thompson and Robby
Ptacek combined for 32 points, seven assists and 10 rebounds as
the Central Connecticut men's basketball team topped St. Francis
(NY) in the quarterfinal round of the Northeast Conference
Tournament on Thursday night. The Blue Devils will head to top
seed Long Island on Sunday at 12 noon for a semifinal match-up with
the Blackbirds. The game will be televised live on MSG.
Ptacek scored 15 of his 16 after the break and Thompson recorded 13 points in the second half.
Ricky Cadell scored a game-high 19 points for the Terriers in the loss.
Northeast Conference Player of the Year Ken Horton got the Blue Devils on the board first with a long three-pointer on Central's opening possession. Horton scored the Blue Devils first five points building a 5-4 lead.
Central built its lead to 23-14 at the third media time out, but the Terriers caught fire and took the lead with an 11-0 run. The run was sparked by a pair of fast break layups from junior Dre Calloway and free throws from senior Akeem Bennett. The final shot of the run came off of the fingers of junior Stefan Perunicic who nailed a three from the right wing to make the score 25-23.
In the final minute of the half Blue Devil freshman De'Angelo Speech forced a turnover and laid the ball in to give his team a 29-28 lead. An over the back call on Central's Chris Baskerville with 1.7 seconds left in the half set up the real excitement.
St. Francis (NY) sophomore Travis Nichols hit both ends of a one-and-one to give his team a 30-29 lead, with 1.7 seconds left in the game. Fouling the free throws, Baskerville took the ball out under the basket and launched a 90 foot pass to Horton under the basket. Horton shook loose from his defender caught the pass and laid it in before the buzzer to send the Blue Devils to the break ahead.
Horton led all scorers in the half with 11 points. Bennett and Nichols led St. Francis with seven points apiece.
The second half started quietly, St. Francis took the lead with the Blue Devils unable to get on the board until the 16:40 mark. The Terriers took a 37-34 lead into the first media time out.
Ptacek scored the first basket after the timeout cutting the Terriers lead to one with a layup after a nice move to the center of the lane. The hoop was a special one for Ptacek as it lifted the junior guard into the 1,000-point club.
The Terriers countered the Blue Devils' six-point run with back-to-back layups from senior Ricky Cadell, taking a 41-40 lead into the second media timeout.
The Blue Devils went on an 11-3 run midway through the half getting five points from Ptacek and then five more from Thompson. The run was capped when freshman Terrell Allen hit a free throw that give Central a 54-49 lead.
St. Francis (NY) had a chanced to win or tie with 9.6 seconds remaining. Cadell took an inbounds pass and cut to the line but his floater fell short of the basket and the Blue Devils took the 64-62 victory.
Cadell finished with a game-high 19 points, but Thompson and Ptacek each dropped in a team-high 16 points to lead the Blue Devils into the second round. Speech grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Blue Devils who advance to the semifinals for the first time since their 2007 NEC Championship.