A run to open the second half propelled Central Connecticut past St. Francis Brooklyn, 62-53, on Thursday night in Northeast Conference men's basketball action. The Blue Devils opened the second half with an 8-0 run to take the lead for good and win on Senior Night.
The win improved CCSU to 6-22 overall and 4-13 in the NEC, while SFBK slips to 4-26 and 2-15 in the league.
Junior Mustafa Jones led all scorers with 16 points, while sophomore Austin Nehls added 13 points and senior Tidell Pierre had 10 points. Senior Khalen Cumberlander had eight points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Central finished the game 26-of-54 (.481) from the field and 7-of-10 (.700) from the line. The Blue Devils had a 42-28 scoring advantage in the paint and outrebounded the Terriers, 38-33.
The Blue Devils hit their first three shots of the night and opened the game 4-of-5 from the field to build a 10-3 lead. Cumberlander and Nehls each had three-pointers in the opening spurt to build the early lead.
The Terriers pulled back into the game with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 12-12 after Jagos Lasic's three-pointer at the 12:09 mark. SFBK would take the lead and push the margin to 20-16, following a three-point play from Yunus Hopkinson.
The half would go back-and-forth from there as the score was tied seven times and the teams traded leads nine times. After Nehls hit 1-of-2 foul shots to tie the game with 33 seconds in the half, Keon Williams would hit a layup just before the buzzer to give St. Francis Brooklyn a 34-32 lead at the intermission.
Nehls and Pierre each had eight points in the opening half to lead CCSU, while Cumberlander had seven points, four assists and two rebounds. The Blue Devils shot 13-of-22 (.591) from the field and 2-of-4 (.500) from the arc, but were hampered by 11 turnovers.
The Terriers held a 10-0 margin in points off turnovers and were led by Hopkinson, Lasic and Robert Montgomery with seven points apiece. SFBK shot 13-of-33 (.394) from the field and 2-of-8 (.250) from the arc in the opening period.
The Blue Devils stormed out of the gate in the second half with a 8-0 run, punctuated by a dunk from junior Mustafa Jones. A layup by Pierre put CCSU on top 40-34 with 16:26 to play as the Terriers were forced into three turnovers in the opening 4:00 of the second half and the Blue Devils took the lead for good.
After sophomore Eric Bowles would score five straight for CCSU to make it, 49-42, the Terriers would cut the margin to three points. Layups from Lasic and Glenn Sanabria would get SFBK within 49-46 but a putback from Nehls would end the Blue Devils drought and the game would not be any closer.
Jones would score the final five points of the game for the Blue Devils to settle the score at 62-53.
Freshman Tyson Batiste finished with eight points and six assists, while Bowles added seven points. Whittingham grabbed six rebounds off the bench.
Hopkinson was the only Terrier in double-figures with 12 points. Dunn finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
St. Francis shot 20-of-58 (.345) overall and was 3-of-15 (.200) from the arc.
Central closes out the season at Bryant on Saturday, Feb. 25, with a 1:00 p.m. tip off.