The Central Connecticut men's basketball team fell to Maine, 81-74, on Sunday afternoon at Detrick Gymnasium. CCSU led 70-69 with 4:34 to play before the Black Bears closed the game on a 12-4 run to claim the win.
The loss drops the Blue Devils to 0-5 on the season, while Maine improves to 2-3 overall.
Central opened the second half with back-to-back layups from freshman Jahlil Nails and junior Khalen Cumberlander to get within 40-35, but the Black Bears stemmed the tide with a layup and would eventually push the lead to double-figures after a three-pointer from Kevin Little made it 49-39.
The Blue Devils trailed by seven with 6:12 to play before rattling off eight unanswered points to take the lead. A layup by sophomore Mustafa Jones followed by three foul shots from freshman Austin Nehls and another from junior Khalen Cumberlander made it 69-68 with 5:06 remaining. Cumberlander scored on a slashing layup with 4:34 left to give CCSU a one-point lead.
The Black Bears responded with six straight points over the next 59 seconds to retake the lead for good and make it 75-70. A short jumper by Jones would get CCSU within 75-72, but Maine would go 6-for-8 from the foul line to close the game and limited Central to two foul shots in the final 2:09.
The first half played out similarly to the second as Maine scored eight straight and opened a 10-3 lead to start the game after a three-pointer from Kevin Little at the 16:32 mark. The Blue Devils came back with a layup by Nehls and a three-pointer by junior JJ Cratit to start chipping away at the deficit.
A jumper by freshman Malik Toppin tied the contest at 14-14 before Central took its first lead of the game with a run of six straight points. A layup by junior Tidell Pierre gave CCSU a 16-14 edge and Toppin capped the sequence with a blocked shot followed by a dunk at the other end to make it 20-14 and close out a 17-4 spurt for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils would match their largest lead of the half after a layup by Toppin made it 30-24 before the Black Bears answered by closing the half on a 16-1 run. A pair of foul shots by Till Gloger gave Maine a 40-31 lead at halftime as CCSU was held without a field goal over the final 6:13 of the period.
Cumberlander and Nehls led CCSU with 15 points apiece, while senior Brandon Peel scored 14 points and added eight rebounds. Pierre finished with 10 points.
Central shot 38.6 percent from the field, compared to 47.5 percent for Maine. The Black Bears held a 47-40 edge in rebounding.
Little scored a game-high 19 points to lead three in double-figures for Maine and Ilja Stojiljkovic collected 11 rebounds.
The Blue Devils will travel to Brown on Wednesday, Dec. 2, for a 7:00 p.m. game in Providence, RI.