The Central Connecticut men's basketball team snapped a four-game losing streak and went on the road to claim a 65-60 victory at St. Francis (PA) on Thursday night. The win moves the Blue Devils to 8-7 in Northeast Conference play. They are 11-14 overall and will head to Robert Morris for a 7 p.m. tip on Saturday night.
St. Francis (PA) falls to 5-21 overall with the loss. They are 4-11 in NEC play.
Senior guard Robby Ptacek led the Blue Devils with 22 points, moving to within three points of 10th place all-time on the CCSU scoring list. He now has 1,474 career points. Freshman Kyle Vinales added 11 points, and senior Ken Horton had nine off the bench.
Sophomore De'Angelo Speech posted a career-high four steals off the bench, while adding three assists, four points and three rebounds. He played solid defense and helped force 19 Red Flash turnovers in the victory.
Central opened the game scoring the first 11 points and the Red Flash were forced to call a timeout with 15:27 on the clock. Central hit five of their first seven shots from the field, while the Red Flash missed their first eight.
The momentum changed quickly, and the Red Flash took their first lead of the game, 23-18 following a 15-0 run. The Blue Devils had led 18-8 with 9:17 on the clock. The second long three of the game from Ptacek stopped the run and made it 23-21.
Central trailed 34-31 at the break, following a late three by Horton. After starting the game 5-of-7, Central hit on just 7-of-20 to finish the half, and shot 44.4 percent. They hit 4-of-10 from three, including 3-of-6 from Ptacek. The Red Flash missed their first eight shots, but finished the half making 14 of their final 21.
The Blue Devils scored the first four points of the second half to reclaim the lead, but the Red Flash answered with seven straight to lead 41-35. Central tied the game at 45-45 after a pair of fast break buckets from Vinales and Horton.
Central led again, 48-47, after an old fashioned three-point play from Ptacek. Both teams went cold from the field, and the Blue Devils held the one point edge with 7:32 on the clock after the Red Flash went over four minutes without a point.
A three from Vinales, his first of the game, pushed Central's lead to 53-49 and forced another Red Flash timeout. The lead reached 57-49 after a pair of buckets off Red Flash turnovers. The Blue Devil run was 12-2.
Up five, Ptacek hit one of two free-throws to push the lead to 63-57 with under 30 seconds left. The Red Flash hit a three with 26.9 on the clock to cut it to three.
Ptacek's 22 led all scorers. Vinales added 11 and Horton nine. Ptacek added seven rebounds and Horton had nine. Freshman Malcolm McMillan had six assists and just two turnovers in the win.
Central continues its Western Pennsylvania road trip on Saturday at Robert Morris. The Blue Devils defeated the Colonials 68-53 earlier this season in New Britain.