Freshmen Evan Phoenix and Austin Nehls combined to score 48 points and grab 17 rebounds as the Central Connecticut men's basketball team defeated UMass-Lowell 83-79 in New Britain on Friday night to grab their first win of the season. Central forced 20 Lowell turnovers and scored 21 points off those miscues to move to 1-8 on season.
Phoenix scored a career-high 28 points and had nine rebounds in the victory. He was an impressive 11-of-19 from the field and 6-of-8 from the line. Nehls finished the game with 20 points, including 7-of-7 from the line (6-of-6 in the second half) and grabbed eight rebounds. He hit three threes.
The Blue Devils grabbed 18 offensive rebounds in the victory which led to 19 second chance points. The Riverhawks shot 31-of-53 from the field and 11-of-24 from three in the game. Central was 29-of-68 from the field, 4-of-12 from three, and 21-of-27 from the free throw line.
The Blue Devils led for the final 8:50 of the game, after trailing 43-38 at the half. The Riverhawks hit a pair of buckets in the final seconds before halftime to take the five point lead.
With the game tied 60-60, Phoenix hit a bucket in the paint and the Blue Devils would never trail again. The lead reached as much as five but Lowell cut it to one, 73-72, with 3:36 to play. The Blue Devils would hold off a late run by making their final six free-throws, and seven of their final eight in the 1:47.
Central posted a season-high 13 steals in the game including five from junior Khalen Cumberlander. Despite playing with foul trouble much of the game, Cumberlander scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds, had five steals and had four assists in 22 minutes of action. He played just six minutes in the second half before fouling out of the game.
Freshman guard Eric Bowles, seeing his first action of the season, had four points, four assists and three steals while providing tremendous defensive pressure for his 24 minutes of action.
The Blue Devils return to action on Wednesday on the road at Connecticut. Game time is 12:30 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford and will be televised on ESPNU.