Sophomore Kyle Vinales hit the game-winning jumper with under six seconds on the clock as the Central Connecticut men's basketball team topped Quinnipiac 67-65 on Monday night in New Britain. The win is the second straight for the Blue Devils, who are now 12-15 overall and 8-8 in Northeast Conference play.
The win gets the Blue Devils into the NEC Tournament for the 15th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the league. At 8-8 in league play the Blue Devils have locked up a place in the tournament with two games to play.
Quinnipiac falls to 14-14 overall and 10-6 in league play with the loss. They are in a three-way tie for third place with Wagner and LIU Brooklyn.
Sophomore Malcolm McMillan finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and a pair of assists. He was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Senior Joe Efese had 14 points and eight rebounds and was 7-of-10 from the field in the win. He also added a pair of blocks. Vinales ended the game with a game-high 17 points, including his game-winner.
Central trailed by two at the half, but pulled ahead by as many as six points with 4:02 on the clock in the second half. They went cold from the field, however, and the Bobcats rattled off a 12-3 run over the next 2:20 to take a 65-62 lead with 1:42 left in the game.
Central responded by scoring the final five points of the game. The first two came on a jump hook from Efese in the lane with 57 seconds left to cut the Bobcat lead to one. Quinnipiac missed a shot on the other end of the floor and then the Blue Devils had their chance.
Vinales dribbled out most of the shot clock and then pulled up from about 28 feet, draining his second three of the game, and his 12th points of the half. A late attempt from Quinnipiac's Evan Conti was short and the clock ran out.
Efese's big night saw him shoot 7-of-10 from the field and he is now 26-of-34 from the field in his last four games and is averaging 14.5 points per game over that stretch.
McMillan's 8-of-10 from the line is a career-best. As a team Central shot 15-of-18 from the line and had only nine turnovers. It's the third straight game with under 10 turnovers for the Blue Devils.
Junior Matt Hunter had seven points and eight rebounds in the win. He also had three assists and Vinales had five.
With his five assists on the night, Vinales becomes the first player in CCSU history to post two seasons with 500 points and 100 assists in a single season. He has 596 points this season and 104 assists. He is four points shy of becoming just the fourth player in school history to score 600 points in a single season.
Central has clinched a spot in the upcoming NEC Tournament next Wednesday night. They have two home games remaining this season, Thursday night vs. St. Francis University and Saturday vs. Robert Morris. Thursday night's game will be televised live on CPTV Sports and online at NECFrontRow.com.