Men's Basketball Opens NEC Play at Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn

Men's Basketball Opens NEC Play at Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn

Northeast Conference play begins this weekend for Central Connecticut men's basketball with games at Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn. The Blue Devils have played their last five games on the road and will open NEC play at Wagner on Thursday, Dec. 29. CCSU will close out its seven-game road swing with a game at St. Francis Brooklyn on Saturday, Dec. 31.  

CCSU opens NEC play against Wagner on Thursday night. The Seahawks were picked second in the preseason coaches' poll and boast the conference's top defense. The Blue Devils will close out the opening NEC weekend against St. Francis Brooklyn on New Year's Eve afternoon. The Terriers were tabbed seventh in the preseason poll. 

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at Wagner (4-6) | Thursday, Dec. 29 • 7:00 PM  |  CCSU Notes  |  Wagner Notes 
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at St. Francis Brooklyn (2-11) |  Saturday, Dec. 31 • 4:00 PM  |  CCSU Notes  |  SFBK Notes
NECFrontRow |  Live Stats  |  Listen (News Radio 1410) 

Series Notes vs. Wagner:
•  Series Record: Wagner leads, 23-20
•  First Meeting: 1939-40 (CCSU, 51-36)
•  Last Meeting: Feb. 20, 2016 (Wagner, 57-83)
•  Last CCSU Win: Jan. 24, 2015 (53-50)
•  Current CCSU Streak: L3
•  Last Wagner Win: Feb. 20, 2016 (57-83)

Series Notes vs. St. Francis Brooklyn:
•  Series Record: St. Francis Brooklyn leads, 26-22
•  First Meeting: 1949-50 (SFBK, 54-59)
•  Last Meeting: Feb. 11, 2016 (SFBK, 67-74)
•  Last CCSU Win: Feb. 18, 2014 (73-71)
•  Current CCSU Streak: L4
•  Last St. Francis Brooklyn: Feb. 11, 2016 (67-74)

CCSU Notes:
•  Sophomore Austin Nehls was named an NEC Prime Performer for the second time this season after pouring in a career-high 26 points at Fordham on Dec. 21. He hit five three-pointers and was 5-for-5 from the foul line in 40 minutes of action. Nehls leads the NEC with a .462 three-point shooting percentage.
•  Senior Tidell Pierre scored double-figures for the fifth time in six games with 10 points. Pierre is among the NEC leaders with a field goal percentage of .507.
•  Nehls surpassed 100 career three-pointers in just his 40th career contest. He has 101 for his career.
•  The CCSU defense is forcing 15.0 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the NEC and is 85th nationally. Senior Khalen Cumberlanders is 11th in the NEC with 1.36 steals per game.

Wagner Notes:
•  Wagner will be looking for back-to-back wins after defeating College of Staten Island, 94-42, last time out. The Seahawks were picked second in the preseason NEC Coaches' Poll.
•  Wagner has the league's top defense, allowing just 67.7 points per game and holding opponents to .414 field goal percentage.
•  The Seahawks collected the NEC's signature win of the season when they downed 18/16th-ranked, 67-58, UConn on Nov. 11.

St. Francis Brooklyn Notes:
•  The Terriers closed out non-conference play with a four-game losing skid after falling to Saint Peter's, 65-58, on Dec. 23.
•  Yunus Hopkinson and Glenn Sanabria are two of the NEC's top three-point shooters, ranking fourth and fifth, respectively, with 2.54 and 2.46 three-pointers per game.
•  SFBK swipes a league-high 7.54 steals per game and has a +1.62 turnover margin to pace the NEC.

Last Time Out
   The Central Connecticut men's basketball team dropped its final non-conference game of the season, falling 83-60 at Fordham at Rose Hill Gymnasium. The Blue Devils were led by sophomore Austin Nehls, who poured in a career-high 26 points. 
   CCSU opened the night's scoring with a layup by senior Tidell Pierre on the opening possession, but that was its only lead of the night. After an inside hoop by Pierre at the 8:23 mark got the Blue Devils within, 22-19, the Rams quickly responded with eight unanswered points. A pair of foul shots by Joseph Chartouny with 7:04 to go in the period made it 30-19.
   Fordham would take a 46-23 lead into halftime after holding Central to just one field goal over the final 8:23 of the opening half. The Rams outscored CCSU, 24-4, in that span and allowed just a pair of foul shots by Nehls and a jumper from senior Tafari Whittingham.
   The Rams would lead by as much as 60-32 with 14:28 to go before a quick spurt from the Blue Devils would cut into the lead. A layup by Nehls and a three-pointer from sophomore Eric Bowles opened a 9-0 run for CCSU. Junior Mustafa Jones followed with a dunk and then threaded a pass to Nehls to make it 65-46. Consecutive baskets by Fordham would end the run and CCSU would not get closer the rest of the way. Freshman Donyell Marshall Jr. would close out the scoring for the final margin.
   Nehls hit five three-pointers and was 8-of-14 from the fineld overall. He added two steals, two assists and a block. Pierre finished with 10 points. Jones and senior Khalen Cumberlander each grabbed a team-high five rebounds.
   Central shot 21-of-48 (.438) overall and was 7-of-17 (.412) from three-point range, but was forced into 24 turnovers
   Fordham had four in double-figures led by Javontae Hawkins' 16 points. The Rams shot 56.6 percent (30-of-53) overall and 47.8 (11-of-23) percent on three-pointers.
Up Next
   CCSU returns home to host its first home games since Dec. 3, when Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary's visit Detrick Gymnasium on Jan. 5 and 7, respectively. Following Saturday's game, the Blue Devils will play three of their next four games at home.