Senior Brandon Peel posted a career-high 22 points and added a career-high tying 18 rebounds to lead the Central Connecticut men's basketball team to a 78-67 home Northeast Conference victory over Bryant on Thursday night. The win is the first league win of the season for the Blue Devils, who are now 1-8 in NEC play this season.
Freshman Jahlil Nails finished with 17 points, including 7-of-8 from the free throw line, in 32 minutes of action. Classmates Austin Nehls (10 points) and Evan Phoenix (10 points) also scored in double figures. Junior Khalen Cumberlander added 12 points and had five rebounds and four assists in the win.
Central had 12 assists and 10 steals in the game, while posting just 10 turnovers on the night. Peel had five assists to go along with his 22 points and 18 boards. He also had a pair of blocks and a steal.
The Blue Devils cut an 11-point deficit to two with a 9-0 run midway through the second half. Consecutive layups from Phoenix and a three-point play from Peel were followed by two free throws from Nehls to make it 55-53 with 10:31 to play.
Bryant would hang on to the lead until a layup from Phoenix off a pass from Peel with 6:29 to play made it 60-59. The layup gave CCSU its first lead since a 13-12 lead at the 12:16 mark of the first half.
Down 63-62 with 4:46 to play, the Blue Devils would score the next seven points to build a 69-63 lead with 3:08 on the clock. The would hold Bryant to just four points in the final 4:45 of the game, finishing the game on 16-4 run to seal their first league win of the season.
Peel powered Central in the early going, hitting a pair of foul shots and converting a three-point play to give the Blue Devils an early 5-3 lead. The forward would hit his first two field goal attempts of the game and finish the opening half 5-of-7 from the field. He posted his seventh double-double of the season by halftime with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs would use a pair of 5-0 runs in the opening period to take the lead. Bryant made five straight field goals at one point to take a 35-28 lead at the 4:23 mark after a three-pointer by Nisre Zouzoua. Back-to-back baskets by Peel would cut the Bulldogs' lead to three before a jumper by Hunter Ware made it 37-32 at the break.
The Blue Devils were solid in the second half shooting 13-of-25 from the field and making 18 free-throws in the period. they held the Bulldogs to just 12-of-32 shooting from the field and sent them to the line only 10 times in the game (6-of-10). Bryant was 2-of-16 from three in the second half and 7-of-29 from three in the game.
Central wraps up its four-game homestand on Saturday when it hosts St. Francis Brooklyn. Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. The CCSU women play the Terriers at 1:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased 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.