Sophomore Joe Hugley posted his first double-double with 33 points and 12 rebounds, but the Central Connecticut men's basketball team lost a second half lead to Fairleigh Dickinson, falling 81-77 on Thursday night at the Rothman Center. CCSU led by as much as 12 points in the second half, before FDU rallied late for the Northeast Conference win.
The loss puts Central at 8-8 overall and 1-2 in NEC play, while Fairleigh Dickinson improved to 5-9 overall and 2-1 in league play.
Hugley would score 33 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including 5-of-11 from three-point range. It was the first 30-point game for CCSU since former Blue Devil Matt Mobley scored 31 at Bryant on Feb. 26, 2015.
The Blue Devils travel to Mount St. Mary's on Saturday for a 4:00 p.m. contest.
Central led for all but 3:13 after scoring the first five points of the game. Sophomore Joe Hugley hit a three-pointer off a pass from junior Eric Bowles and junior Deion Bute scored down low off a Bowles feed to make it 5-0 under a minute into the game.
The Blue Devils would lead by as many as 11 points in the opening half after hitting 16-of-27 (.593) from the field. Hugley scored five straight points for CCSU to make it 37-26 with 3:02 left in the period.
Darian Anderson would hit a trifecta for FDU just before the horn to make it 41-38 at halftime.
FDU got within a point at 48-47 with 16:48 to play, but a 10-0 Central run pushed the lead back to double-figures. Junior Austin Nehls had the first four points of the spurt and Hugley followed with six straight, including his fifth three-pointer of the night. His three-point play with 12:56 remaining would make it 61-49.
That would be the largest lead of the night as Fairleigh Dickinson would begin to chip away at the Central lead. The Knights would cut the deficit to 65-64 after outscoring Central 13-2 over a four-minute span. Anderson would score six unanswered points to spark the run. Bute would hit a layup to interrupt the streak before Jahlil Jenkins hit a three-point and FDU scored seven straight. A layup by Noah Morgan cut the CCSU lead to one with 6:35 to play.
After Nehls hit a layup, Jenkins would tie the game at 67-all on a three-pointer. FDU would take its first lead on two foul shots by Morgan with 3:33 to play to make it 69-67.
CCSU would tie the game on a Hugley layup, but the Knights would get four straight from Jenkins to take the lead for good. A three-point play by Morgan with 35 seconds remainings gave FDU its largest lead of the night at 79-73. A jumper by senior Mustafa Jones with under a second left settled the final margin.
Central finished the game 28-of-56 (.500) from the field and went 7-of-19 (.368) from the arc. It was the seventh time this season the Blue Devils have shot better than 50 percent from the floor. CCSU also held a 41-29 rebounding margin.
Bute added 12 points and six rebounds, while Jones finished with 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
FDU shot 28-of-64 (.438) overall and 7-of-21 (.333) from the arc. The Knights took advantage of 22 turnovers by CCSU to score 18 points.
Morgan led four Knights in double-figures with 21 points.
Central returns to action on Saturday with a 4:00 p.m. game at Mount St. Mary's.