The Central Connecticut men's basketball team overcame a 15-point second half deficit and forced overtime in a 91-86 win over Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday morning. Junior Faronte Drakeford led the offense with a career-high 25 points and junior Kyle Vinales scored 20 points and had seven assists in his first action since Jan. 3.
With the victory the Blue Devils are now 7-16 overall and 3-7 in Northeast Conference play. They have won two of their last three. FDU falls to 8-16 overall and 4-6 in league play.
The big second half comeback is the second in the last eight days for the Blue Devils. They trailed Robert Morris by 18 last Saturday in a one-point win on the road.
The Blue Devils led by three at halftime, 44-41, after shooting 57.7 percent (15-of-26) and making 4-of-9 from three. Junior Malcolm McMillan had 17 at halftime after making 5-of-8 from the field, including two threes. He was 5-of-5 from the line.
The Knights, however, came out on fire in the second half, using a 23-5 run in the first 5:45 to claim a 64-49 lead with 14:15 to play in regulation. The lead remained at 15 with 11:43 on the clock as both teams went scoreless for almost three minutes. Central was without a point for 3:59 until a free throw from Drakeford ended the drought.
Drakeford and Vinales, who combined for 35 points after halftime, fueled the Blue Devil comeback that included a 12-0 run to tie the game with under four minutes to play. Down 77-65, Central scored 12 unanswered to tie the game 77-77 with 3:35 on the clock. During the 12-0 run, Vinales scored five and had two assists. Drakeford added four and junior De'Angelo Speech hit a three that tied the game.
Down two, a lay-up from Vinales tied the game 81-81 with 1:35 left. Neither team would score again, although a Vinales jumper came up just short in the final seconds.
In overtime the Blue Devils went 2-of-3 from the field and made five free-throws to secure their second win in three games. FDU was 2-of-8 from the field in overtime.
Central shot 62.3 percent from the field, their best shooting game since they also shot 62.3 percent in a win at home over Hartford during the 2011-12 season. They were 16-of-24 in the second half, and 18-of-27 total after halftime.
Drakeford's 25, a new career-high, led the way for CCSU. He also added eight rebounds. Vinales had 20 and added seven assists, five of them coming after halftime. It was his first conference action of the season after missing nine games with an injury. McMillan finished the game with 18 and also had three assists. Senior Terrell Allen had eight points, five rebounds and four blocks.
The Blue Devils are in action again on Thursday night on the road at St. Francis Brooklyn beginning at 7 p.m.