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Men Play Tough in Loss at Michigan State

Phil Niekerk photo
Phil Niekerk photo

The Central Connecticut men's basketball team travelled to Michigan State on Wednesday night and played the Spartans tough on their home floor before falling 89-69.  The Blue Devils had 23 offensive rebounds and led by as many as 11 in the first half before dropping their third game of the season.

Senior Ken Horton led the offense with 17 points and he added nine rebounds.  Senior David Simmons had five points and a team-high 10 rebounds.   The Spartans outrebounded Central just 43-38 in the game.

"We played hard, but their size got to us in the second half," head coach Howie Dickenman said.  "I was happy that we didn't turn the ball over and that we did very well on the offensive boards.  We won't see a team with their size for the rest of the season and I think we held our own on the boards tonight."

Central had just 11 turnovers in the game, but shot under 35 percent in the game, including under 32.1 percent from three. 

With the loss the Blue Devils drop to 5-3 overall on the season.  It snapped their five-game winning streak.  They continue their road trip on Saturday at Brown at 2 p.m.

Michigan State is now 6-2 on the season.

"We didn't make some shots in the second half and they did," Dickenman said.  "I was a little worried about coming into this venue and how we would react, but I was pleased that we were not intimidated by this atmosphere."

The Blue Devils led 14-9 at the first media timeout after Horton hit a three.  They were 6-of-10 from the field to start the game, and stretched the lead to 11, 26-15, following the second three of the half from Horton.

After a quick Michigan State run, Simmons had an offensive rebound and put back pushed the Central lead to 28-22.  The Spartans would answer with an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game, 30-28, with five to play before halftime.

Freshman Adonis Burbage hit his first three to push Central back up 34-32, but the Spartans would score the final four points of the half.

Central trailed at the half for the first time this season, 36-34, following a turnover and late bucket by the Spartans.   They would never regain the lead.

The Blue Devils started hot, but finished the first half 13-of-32 from the floor, hitting just three of their final 16 shots from the floor.  The Spartans were 14-of-36 from the field before halftime, and held a slight 21-20 edge on the boards.

Michigan State built a 47-38 lead to open the second half following a three from Austin Thornton.  The Spartans scored 11 of the first 15 points to open the half.

The lead went to 12, 54-42, but the second three of the game from freshman Kyle Vinales cut it to 54-45 with under 12 to play.  A Horton put back dunk cut it to 60-49 with nine to play.  It was 10, 61-51, after two more free-throws from senior Robby Ptacek

The teams traded threes, and the second of the game for freshman Malcolm McMillan and the third from Vinales cut the lead to 69-57 with 6:51 on the clock. 

A quick 5-0 run pushed the Sparten lead to 73-57.  

Horton had 17 points, nine rebounds and five steals before fouling out with 2:14 left in the game.  He added three assists.  Ptacek had 16 points and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.  Vinales had 11 and added three assists.

The Spartans were led by 20 from Travis Trice who also added five rebounds.  Draymond Green added 14 points and nine boards.

Central's McMillan finished the game with a career-high nine points and fished out five assists.  The Blue Devils finished the game with more assists (12) than turnovers (11), and had six steals.  The had 21 second chance points to just 19 from Michigan State.

Central returns to action on Saturday at Brown beginning at 2 p.m.

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