Central Connecticut men's basketball went on the road and picked up a 79-68 win at ECU on Friday night in Minges Coliseum in Greenville, NC. The Blue Devils shot nearly 58 percent as a team and had four players in double-figures. Central hosts Coppin State in its home-opener on Tuesday night.
CCSU improves to 1-3 on the season, while dropping ECU to 1-2 overall.
Junior Austin Nehls hit five three-pointers to lead all scorers with 24 points. Junior Tyler Kohl added 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while junior Deion Bute had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Senor Mustafa Jones finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, while junior Eric Bowles had nine points.
Central shot 57.7 percent (30-of-52) for the game, including 15-of-25 (.600) after halftime. Central was 6-of-15 (.400) from the arc and 13-of-20 (.650) at the foul line.
CCSU had a 36-26 advantage in rebounding and finished with 15 assists.
The Blue Devils got two quick layups from junior Eric Bowles and scored the first six points of the game. CCSU would use an 8-0 run to take its largest lead of the half at 16-8 following a foul shot by junior Deion Bute.
The Pirates responded with seven straight points to take their first lead of the game. Dimitri Spasojevic would close the spurt with five straight, including a layup at the 7:38 make it 20-19.
Junior Tyler Kohl would hit a jumper to open a run of nine straight points for CCSU. A three-pointer by junior Austin Nehls would give the Blue Devils a 33-26 lead that they would hold going into the break.
Senior Mustafa Jones and ECU's Jabari Craig traded baskets in the final 0:25 to send the game into the break at 37-36 in CCSU's favor.
ECU opened the second half with a three-point play by Kentrell Barkley to take a brief lead, but CCSU came back with a 7-0 run and held the Pirates to a 1-of-9 shooting stretch. A jumper by Kohl and layup through traffic by Nehls would cap the run and put Central on top, 50-41, with 14:11 to play.
The Blue Devils would hold the lead the rest of the way and not allow the Pirates to get closer than 62-59. Back-to-back three-pointers by Nehls would give CCSU its largest lead of the night at 74-61 with 2:03 to play.
ECU shot 26-of-58 (.448) for the game and was 6-of-21 (.286) from the three-point line. Kentrell Barkley and B.J. Tyson led the Pirates with 19 points.
The Blue Devils, who played four games to open the year, host Coppin State in their home-opener on Tuesday, Nov. 21. Tip-off at Detrick Gym is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at CCSUTickets.com.
POSTGAME QUOTES - Assistant coach Mike Witcoskie
"I felt like we played like the team that really wanted to win. Since the Hartford game we've talked about playing a full 40 minutes and I thought the guys really bought in and played a full game. The good thing is that we continue to improve. We talked about not turning the ball over and giving them easy buckets, because they're a little like St. John's in that if you turn it over they'll turn them into layups. We were much better in that regard.
We've talked about sharing the ball and we were much better in that regard tonight and our assists outnumbered our turnovers.
There were some guys who were outstanding. Deion [Bute] was great on the glass. Tyler [Kohl] really got it going and Austin [Nehls] kind of finished them off with all those shots. I thought if he made those first couple shots of the second half we were really going to get it going."