Freshman Kyle Vinales scored 29 second half points, but the Central Connecticut men's basketball fell short 68-60, on the Road at Robert Morris on Saturday night. Vinales finished with 32 in the game, his second 30 point output in his freshman season.
Central drops to 11-5 overall and 8-8 in Northeast Conference play with the loss. They finish their Western Pennsylvania swing with a 1-1 record, having won 65-60 on the road at St. Francis (PA) on Thursday night.
Robert Morris improves to 21-8 overall and 12-4 in league play. They secure a home game in the upcoming NEC Tournament with the victory.
Despite the loss the Blue Devils clinch their 14th straight trip to the NEC Tournament. With their current 8-8 record they cannot finish lower than eighth in the regular season standings.
Vinales led all scorers with 32. His 29 in the second half matched the best scoring half of his career. He also had 29 in the first half of a game at Niagara earlier in the season. The eight threes in a game were a career-high, and the most in a single game for the Blue Devils since Tristan Blackwood had 10 in a game vs. Robert Morris in 2007. It matched the fourth most threes in a single game in program history.
The Colonials never trailed in the game, making their first basket just three seconds into the contest. The Blue Devils hit their first shot of the game, and then missed 10 straight as Robert Morris climbed out to an 11-3 lead. Central scored seven straight to make it 11-10, but the Colonials responded with a 9-2 run to lead 20-12.
Robert Morris led 28-19 at the half. Central hit six field goals in the half, four of them came from senior Robby Ptacek. He had 10 at the break. They were 6-of-25 from the field and 2-of-10 from three. Ptacek was 4-of-9 but the rest of the team shot just 2-of-16.
Robert Morris was 12-of-24 before halftime, and assisted on 10 of their 12 baskets. The Blue Devils had only two assists and turned it over eight times.
The lead reached 31-19 to open the second half, but back-to-back threes from Vinales cut it to 31-25. A fast break bucket from Vinales cut the lead to 31-27, and the run was 8-0. The lead climbed back to 37-31 for Robert Morris before a jumper from Ptacek cut it to 40-35 with 11:16 to play.
The Colonials hit three straight threes in the next 1:30 to push the lead to 49-35. The run reached 11-0 and the home team led 51-35 with under eight minutes to play.
Central cut the lead to seven, 69-62, with under two minutes to play, using an 11-0 run. Vinales hit his seventh three of the game, and sixth of the half, to bring Central within seven.
Following a Robert Morris basket, Vinales hit two free-throws to make it 61-54. Down eight, Vinales hit his eighth three to make it 63-58 with 1:02 to play. They would get no closer, as RMU made its free-throws in the final minute to secure the win.
Vinales had 32, and Ptacek added 14. Sophomore Terrell Allen added 10 points and five rebounds. Ptacek led the Blue Devils with six boards.
Central will finish the regular season with a pair of home games next week. They host Mount St. Mary's on Thursday at 7 p.m., and then finish the regular season on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. vs. Wagner. It will be Senior Day in New Britain, as Ptacek, Ken Horton and David Simmons will all be honored prior to tip.