The Central Connecticut men's basketball team erased a 15-point Mount St. Mary's lead in the second half to pull out a 54-52 win at Knott Arena in Emmitsburg, MD, on Saturday. The Blue Devils took their first lead of the day with 1:17 remaining and ended the Mountaineers' eight-game win streak.
CCSU improves to 5-18 overall and 3-9 in the Northeast Conference. Mount St. Mary's, the NEC leader, is now 12-13 overall and 10-2 in league play.
Sophomore Austin Nehls hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 1:17 to play for CCSU. The Blue Devils first lead of the day came with Nehls' shot. Mount St. Mary's led for a total of 38:21 and had its largest lead at 43-28 with 14:24 to play.
Mount St. Mary's scored the first nine points of the game, going 4-of-4 from the field. The Mountaineers took advantage of forcing three CCSU turnovers in the opening 2:21, and after an Elijah Long steal he found Junior Robinson for a three-pointer to make it 9-0 at the 17:39 mark.
Senior Khalen Cumberlander would get Central on the board with a driving dunk at the 16:09 mark. The Blue Devils would settle in from there and go on a stretch of hitting 7-of-8 from the field to get within two points. Senior Tafari Whittingham would hit a jumper from the baseline to make it 21-19 at the 9:57 mark.
The Mount would push its lead back to as much as six points in the first half, but freshman Tyson Batiste hit a short turnaround shot in the lane just before halftime to get CCSU within, 31-28, at the break.
Whittingham scored nine points in the opening half to lead CCSU, while Cumberlander chipped in with eight points. The Blue Devils would shot 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from the field and 3-of-7 (.429) from the arc.
Mount St. Mary's had five players score at least five points in the first half, including three players with six points. The Mountaineers shot 12-of-27 (.444) overall and 3-of-10 (.300) from three-point range.
The Mount opened the second half with 12 straight points to build its largest lead of the day at 43-28. The Blue Devils missed their first eight shots of the second half spanning the opening 6:52 until Whittingham hit a layup to to make it 43-30 with 13:08 to play.
Central would outscore Mount St. Mary's, 15-4, over a span of 7:43 to cut the deficit to four points. Whittingham would open a quick 9-0 run for CCSU with a layup and Cumberlander had five points during the spurt, including a layup to make it 43-37. Cumberlander would hit a foul shot with 5:25 to play that made it 47-43.
After Mount St. Mary's scored 12 points in the opening five minutes of the half, the CCSU defense would hold the Mountaineers to just four field goals over the final 14:24.
With 3:08 remaining, junior Kevin Seymour would hit a layup to open CCSU's decisive 11-0 run. Nehls followed with five straight points, including a three-pointer with 1:17 to play that would give Central the lead, 50-49.
Seymour and Nehls would hit four consecutive foul shots to put Central up, 54-49, with 23 seconds to play. Greg Alexander hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to get The Mount within two, but the Blue Devils would hang on for the win.
Cumberlander led the Blue Devils with 14 points and eight rebounds. He moved into 31st on the CCSU career scoring list with 1,052 career points.
Whittingham added 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Nehls finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
The Blue Devils shot 18-of-52 (.346) from the field and was 6-of-15 (.400) from the arc. Central was 12-of-22 (.545) from the foul line. CCSU outrebounded Mount St. Mary's, 43-36.
Elijah Long was the only Mountaineer in double-figures and had 10 points. Chris Wray grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
Mount St. Mary's shot 20-of-57 (.351) from the field and was just 6-of-27 (.222) from the arc. The Mountaineers made just nine trips to the foul line, going 6-of-9.
The Blue Devils travel to Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday, Feb. 9. The game will tipoff at 5:00 p.m. and be carried on ESPN3.