Four players scored in double-figures for the Central Connecticut men's basketball team in a season-opening 75-60 win over Hartford on Friday night at Detrick Gymnasium in head coach Donyell Marshall's debut. Central shot 54.8 percent after halftime and used a 13-0 run midway through the second half to pull away.
CCSU begins the year 1-0, while Hartford is 0-1.
Sophomore Austin Nehls hit four three-pointers and led the Blue Devils with 18 points. Senior Khalen Cumberlander finished with 14 points, while junior Mustafa Jones had 12 points and senior Tidell Pierre finished with 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Eric Bowles had eight assists without a turnover, while freshman Tyson Batiste had five assists against just one turnover. Senior Tafari Whittingham had seven points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
Central shot 46.9 percent (30-of-64) for the game and held a 48-33 rebounding advantage. The Blue Devils finished with 24 assists against 14 turnovers.
The Blue Devils led by 10 points at halftime and a layup by Batiste to open the second half pushed the CCSU lead to 38-26. The Hawks would claw back into the game by holding CCSU scoreless for five minutes and used a 14-6 run to get within 44-40 following a three-point play by Jalen Ross with 12:13 to play.
CCSU wouldn't let the Hawks get closer than four points and after a Andrew Ramirez layup made it 50-46 with 9:53 remaining, the Blue Devils would answer with a four-point play by Nehls that proved to be the turning point in the night. Nehls hit a three-pointer off a long pass by Bowles and was fouled during the shot. He made the ensuing free throw that opened a 13-0 run over the next two minutes.
Cumberlander had two layups during the run and another three-pointer by Nehls would cap the run to make it 63-46 with 6:34 to play. The game would be no closer than 13 points the the rest of the way and a dunk by freshman Harrison Kay with 19 seconds to play punctuated the game for the 75-60 final score.
Following a jumper on Hartford's opening possession, CCSU would never trail again as a three-pointer by Nehls put the Blue Devils in front for good. A layup by Jones gave Central it's largest lead of the first half at 36-23. A three-pointer by Jason Dunne just before halftime cut the CCSU lead to 36-26.
Ross led Hartford with 18 points, while Dunne added 13. The Hawks were limited to 41 percent (25-of-61) shooting and had 11 assists against 13 turnovers.
The Blue Devils are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 13, with a 2:00 p.m. contest at Seton Hall.