Sacred Heart built a double-digit lead in the first half and picked up a 77-62 win over the Central Connecticut men's basketball team on Saturday at the Pitt Center. The Blue Devils had an early five-point lead before the Pioneers held CCSU to eight points over a nearly 10-minute stretch in the opening half to go ahead by 13 points.
With the loss, CCSU slips to 5-20 overall and 3-11 in the Northeast Conference. Sacred Heart won its fourth straight to improve to 12-15 overall and 7-7 in the NEC.
Central got off to a fast start, building a five-point lead in the early going. Junior Mustafa Jones had six points during a run of eight unanswered for the Blue Devils. His short jumper gave CCSU an 8-3 lead at the 16:13 mark.
Jones would score 10 points in the opening 6:29 and his layup gave CCSU a 12-10 lead before Sacred Heart would score five straight to take the lead. The Pioneers later built a 13-point lead with a 9-0 run late in the first period. Chris Robinson hit a three-pointer to make it 27-20 to open the run and Charles Tucker's two foul shots with 4:06 left in the half made it 33-20.
The Blue Devils would outscore the Pioneers, 10-4, to close the half. Senior Tafari Whittingham had five points in the final 2:58 and two foul shots from sophomore Eric Bowles with 1:14 to play in the half would make it 39-30 at halftime.
Jones led all scorers with 10 points at halftime, while Whittingham added seven points.
The Blue Devils shot 13-of-29 (.448) from the field, but was 1-of-7 (.143) from the arc and 3-of-4 (.750) at the foul line.
Sean Hoehn and De'von Barnett each had eight points in the first half for SHU. The Pioneers shot 11-of-25 (.440) from the field in the opening half, including 5-of-11 (.455) from three-point range. Sacred Heart hit 12-of-14 (.857) from the free throw line.
Sophomore Austin Nehls had four straight points for CCSU to open the second half and get the Blue Devils within, 42-34, but that was as close as the game would get. Quincy McKnight and Charles Tucker hit back-to-back three-pointers to give SHU a 52-36 lead with 14:52 to play.
The Pioneers would lead by as much as 74-57 with 1:40 to play. Donyell Marshall Jr. had a putback and Batiste hit a layup with 0:23 to play to close out the scoring the for CCSU and make it 77-62.
Jones scored 14 points and had six rebounds to lead CCSU. Cumberlander and Nehls each had 12 points. Jones added a career-high six blocked shots with two steals.
CCSU finished the game 22-of-51 (.431) from the field and 3-of-12 (.250) from three-point range. The Blue Devils were 15-of-18 (.833) at the free throw line. Central had a 32-30 edge in rebounding.
Hoehn led all scorers with 17 points and McKnight added 11 points.
The Pioneers went 24-of-51 (.471) from the field and 13-of-23 (.565) from the arc. SHU was 16-of-19 (.842) at the foul stripe.
The Blue Devils begin a three-game homestand on Thursday, Feb. 16, against Saint Francis U. The game will tip off at 7:00 p.m.