The Central Connecticut men's basketball team fell to Saint Francis U, 79-64, on Saturday afternoon at Detrick Gymnasium. The Red Flash used a second half run to build a double-digit lead and the Blue Devils were unable to overcome the deficit despite a career-high 21 points from freshman Austin Nehls and a double-double from senior Brandon Peel.
The loss dropped CCSU to 1-18 overall and 0-8 in Northeast Conference play. Saint Francis improved to 9-10 overall and 5-3 in the NEC.
Nehls led all scorers with a career-high 21 points, while Peel chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season
The Red Flash scored the first four points of the second half to build a 42-35 lead before a layup from freshman Austin Nehls ended a nearly six-minute drought without a field goal for CCSU and a dunk from senior Brandon Peel would cut the deficit to 44-41.
Saint Francis came back with a 9-0 run over a four-minute span to push the lead to double-figures. Malik Harmon opened the spurt with a three-pointer and after two foul shots from Ronnie Drinnon, the Red Flash would take a 53-41 lead.
The Blue Devils would chip away at the deficit and got within 68-61 after a three-pointer by Nehls with 3:15 to play, but the Red Flash would score five straight to push the lead back to double-figures. Saint Francis hit eight straight from the foul line to close the game and seal the final margin.
Central and Saint Francis played an even first half that featured four ties and five lead changes. The Blue Devils used back-to-back layups from Peel and junior Khalen Cumberlander to take a quick 4-0 lead to open the game. CCSU later led 22-18 after a jumper by sophomore Kevin Seymour.
Saint Francis would build a four-point lead of its own later in the period. Trailing 24-21, a layup by Isaiah Blackmon opened a spurt of six straight for the Red Flash to take the lead. SFU built the lead to 34-30 following a three-point play by Blackmon with 2:25 left in the period.
Nehls was fouled on a three-pointer and converted all three foul shots to make it 34-33 before Ben Millaud-Meunier hit a pair of free throws to give the Red Flash a 36-33 lead at the break.
Nehls hit four three-pointers to finish with a career-high 21 points. Peel posted his 18th career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Blue Devils hit 25-of-60 from the field to shoot 41.7 percent overall.
Blackmon scored 20 points on 9-for-9 shooting to lead four Red Flash in double-figures. Drinnon added 18 points and 10 rebounds. The Red Flash shot 50 percent from the field (25-of-50) for the game.
The Blue Devils will be back in action to host Bryant on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7:00 p.m. in Detrick Gymnasium.