The Central Connecticut men's basketball team won its fourth in a row with a 72-59 win over North Carolina A&T on Thursday at Detrick Gymnasium. The Blue Devils shot over 50 percent as a team on offense, but their defensive work was most impressive. CCSU stymied an Aggies offense that entered the game averaging 91.8 points per game.
Sophomore Joe Hugley led the Blue Devils with a career-high 21 points. Juniors Austin Nehls and Tyler Kohl added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Senior Mustafa Jones was the fourth player in double-digits with 10 points.
The Blue Devils travel to Brown on Saturday, Dec. 2, for a 2:00 p.m. tipoff.
The win improved CCSU to 4-3 on the year and pushed its win streak to four games, its longest since taking four straight from Nov. 15-20, 2012.
A&T entered the night having scored 90 or more points in a game four times and averaging 91.8 points per game, shooting .505 from the field. The Aggies shot just 37.5 percent (21-of-56) overall and were 3-of-22 (.136) from three-point range. Femi Olujobi was the nation's leading scorer at 28.3 points per game, but he was held to less than half of that with 14 points.
North Carolina A&T would open the game by building an 8-2 lead in the opening seven minutes. Kwei Lartey's layup at the 13:16 mark would give the Aggies a six-point lead, but it was all Blue Devils after that.
Central missed its first six shots, but would recover to take the lead for good midway through the opening period. The CCSU defense held A&T without a field goal for over six minutes and the offense hit its stride with a 15-0 run to go ahead 17-8 following a layup by Hugley at the 7:20 mark.
The Blue Devils would push the lead to double-figures with 2:54 left in the half when junior Deion Bute hit a jumper to make it 28-17 at the 2:54 mark. The teams would trade baskets to close out the half and Central took a 32-23 lead into the intermission.
CCSU opened the second half with a 7-1 spurt to push the lead back to double-figures. Kohl picked off a pass and converted the layup at the other end to make it 39-26 with 17:10 remaining.
The Aggies would trim the deficit to single digits and get within four points following a run of six unanswered points. A pair of foul shots by Amari Hamilton would make it 49-45 with 9:14 to go. Hugley would emphatically end the run with a driving dunk to push the CCSU back to six points and the game would get no closer the rest of the way.
A three-pointer by Nehls with 7:05 to play made it 56-47 and a layup by senior Shakaris Laney put the the lead to double-figures. After an Aggies hoop, junior Eric Bowles scored six straight for Central to make it 63-49 and the CCSU cushion would get no closer than 11 points before the final buzzer.
Central finished the night shooting 51.0 percent (25-of-49) from the field. The teams were even, 34-34, in rebounding. Hugley and Kohl each had eight boards for the Blue Devils. Kohl added six assists and three steals. Bowles chipped in five assists.
Central will travel to Brown for a game on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 2:00 p.m.