The Central Connecticut men's basketball team held off a second half rally and downed Cleveland State, 74-73, on Friday at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, OH. Central held a 20-point lead in the first half, but the Vikings would rally in the second half. The Blue Devils had four score in double-figures, led by junior Austin Nehls' 19 points.
CCSU won its third straight to improve to 3-3, while CSU slips to 1-4 on the season.
Nehls would hit three three-pointers in the game and score 14 of his points after halftime. Sophomore Joe Hugley added 14 points, while senior Mustafa Jones had 13 points. Junior Tyler Kohl finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Central scored eight straight points to take an early 10-3 lead. Junior Tyler Kohl opened the run with a trifecta and sophomore Joe Hugley converted a layup at the 14:52 mark to close out the early spurt.
Cleveland Stat would climb back to take a 13-12 lead after Dontel Highsmith hit a three-pointer, but the Blue Devils would respond with a 16-2 run over the next 5:54 to take control of the opening half. Hugley would hit a layup to begin the spurt and a layup from junior Eric Bowles with 6:15 to go in the half would stretch the lead to 28-15.
The Blue Devils would score seven straight late in the half to take their largest lead of the period. Junior Austin Nehls hit a three-pointer to make it 43-23 with 1:50 to go in the half. The Vikings would recover to score the final six points of the period to make it 43-29 at the break.
CCSU set setason-highs for points in the first half (43) and field goal percentage (.586). Hugley had 12 points and Kohl scored 10 points in the first period.
The Vikings would charge back, using a 13-0 run over a span of 3:30 to get within, 54-51. Bobby Word hit back-to-back three-pinters to cut the Central lead to three points with 11:15 remaining.
A three-pointer by senior Shakaris Laney and a hoop by Nehls would stem the CSU tide momentarily before the Vikings would eventually take a 69-67 lead on a three-pointer by Stefan Kenic with 2:36 to go.
Nehls would answer with five straight points, including a three-pointer, that gave Central a 72-69 lead. Nehls would finish the game scoring CCSU's last seven points, including two foul shots with 32 seconds left to make it 74-71.
The Vikings would have a chance to tie when Tyree Appleby hit a layup and was fouled with 24 seconds left. He would miss the ensuing foul shot, but the ball would go off CCSU and give the Vikings one more chance to win. Kenic had a three-pointer at the buzzer to win, but it was off the mark.
CCSU shot 46.7 percent (28-of-60) for the game, and 8-of-19 (.421) on three-pointers. Central held a 38-29 rebounding edge and outscored CSU, 38-24, in the paint.
Highsmith led CSU with 17 points. The Vikings shot 49.1 percent (26-of-53) for the game and was 15-of-28 (.536) after halftime. CSU hit 13-of-29 (.448) from three-point range.
The Blue Devils return to action at home on Thursday, Nov. 30, when they host North Carolina A&T.