Central Connecticut had five players score double-figures, but fell at Fairleigh Dickinson, 92-73, in Northeast Conference men's basketball action on Saturday at Stratis Arena. Freshman Austin Nehls led the way with 16 points, while classmates Malik Toppin and Jahlil Nails added career-highs of 14 and 13 points, respectively.
The loss drops Central to 1-14 overall and 0-4 in the NEC. Fairleigh Dickinson improves to 7-8 and 3-1.
Central got off to a hot start, hitting five of its first seven shots from the field. CCSU led, 11-4, with 16:24 left in the first half following a layup by Nehls. The Knights would respond with 14 consecutive points over a five-minute span.
A layup by Darnell Edge made it 18-11 before a jumper from junior Khalen Cumberlander ended a nearly six-minute scoreless drought for the Blue Devils. A three-pointer by Stephan Jiggets would push the Knights lead to 30-15 and capped a 7:37 span that saw the hosts outscore the Blue Devils, 26-4.
Freshman Jahlil Nails hit a three-pointer from the corner just before halftime for Central, but the Knights would take a 50-32 lead into the break. FDU shot 56.3 percent (18-32) from the floor in the first half and converted 12 CCSU turnovers into a 20-7 edge in points off turnovers.
Fairleigh Dickinson continued its hot-shooting in the second half and would push its lead to as much as 87-57 with 5:00 remaining. The Blue Devils managed to end the game on a 10-0 run, capped off by a dunk by sophomore Mustafa Jones for the final margin.
Nehls led the way with 16 points for the Blue Devils. Toppin added a career-high 14 points with six rebounds and two blocked shots. Nails hit three three-pointers and had 13 points, while Jones finished with 12 and Cumberlander added 10 points.
Central shot 41.1 percent (23-56) overall and hit seven three-pointers. The teams were even on the glass, 34-34.
The Knights finished the day shooting 55.6 percent (35-of-63) from the field. Earl Potts, Jr. led five in double-figures with a game-high 22 points. Marques Townes matched a career-high with 18 points.
The Blue Devils will return home and host Sacred Heart on Thursday, Jan. 14, in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff at Detrick Gymnasium. Tickets are available at CCSUTickets.com or at the box office upon entry. Admission for all CCSU students, faculty and staff is free of charge with a valid Blue Chip card. All of the action can also be seen live, for free, on NECFrontRow.com.