A second-half run lifted St. Francis Brooklyn past the Central Connecticut men's basketball team, 74-67, on Thursday night at the Pope PEC in Northeast Conference action. The Blue Devils built a double-figure lead in the opening period, but the Terriers got hot from behind the arc to rally in the second half.
Central slips to 3-21 overall and 2-11 in the NEC. St. Francis improves to 11-15 and 7-6 in the NEC.
Senior Brandon Peel posted his sixth straight double-double with a career-high 23 points to go with 13 rebounds. Sophomore Kevin Seymour added a personal-best 14 points and freshman Evan Phoenix scored 12 points off the bench.
Central took the lead from the opening tip to build a double-figure lead at the intermission. A run of seven straight points, with four in a row from Phoenix and a three-pointer from junior JJ Cratit made it 19-10 midway through the first half.
A layup by Phoenix at the 7:48 mark pushed the CCSU lead to double-figures at 23-13. The Blue Devils would extend the lead to as much as 41-25 after a stepback jumper from Peel with 1:12 to go in the half. The Terriers were held without a field goal for the final 3:35 before trimming the deficit to 41-27 with a foul shots from Antonio Jenifer and Tyreek Jewell.
The Blue Devils shot a blistering 53.1 percent (17-of-32) in the opening half and were a perfect 5-for-5 at the foul line. CCSU outrebounded the Terriers, 24-9, to help build a 20-8 advantage scoring in the paint in the first half.
The foul shots to end the first were the start of an 11-0 run. Jenifer accounted four seven points during the spurt and got the Terriers within 41-36 with 16:35 to play after a pair of free throws.
A layup by Seymour momentarily interrupted the St. Francis surge before Tyreek Jewell hit consecutive treys to make it 43-42 with 14:00 to play. A Yunus Hopkinson three-pointer tied the game at 45-45 with 13:07 to play and the Terriers took their first lead on a three-pointer by Jewell to make it 50-49 with 11:08 left.
Central would tie it twice more at 55-55 on a layup by Phoenix and again at 57-57 after two foul shots by Cratit. The Terriers never surrendered the lead and would rattle of seven straight to take a 64-57 lead on a Hopkinson layup with 4:34 to play. The Blue Devils would get within 68-67 on a Seymour jumper with 2:10 to play, but St. Francis outscored CCSU 6-0 down the stretch to close out the 74-67 win.
CCSU finished the game shooting 45 percent (27-of-60) from the field, but just 2-of-10 from three-point range. Central held a 38-22 advantage on points in the paint and outrebounded St. Francis, 40-33.
St. Francis was led by Hopkinson who hit seven three-pointers and finished with a career-high 27 points. Jenifer added 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Jewell chipped in with 12 points. The Terriers shot 43.8 percent in the second half and finished the game at 39.7 percent (23-of-58) from the field.
The Blue Devils will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 13, when they travel to Sacred Heart. The tip is slated for 3:30 p.m. and will follow the CCSU-Sacred Heart women's contest.