The Central Connecticut men's basketball team erased a double-digit deficit in the second half before falling in overtime at Saint Francis U, 77-71, on Thursday night at DeGol Arena in Northeast Conference action. Junior Tyler Kohl led CCSU with 28 points and 13 rebounds, while junior Austin Nehls scored 11 points and became the 37th Blue Devil to score 1,000 career points.
CCSU slips to 12-16 overall and 5-10 in NEC play, while Saint Francis improved to 15-11 overall and 9-6 in league play.
Central is back in action on Saturday, Feb. 17, with a 7:00 p.m. game at Robert Morris. The game will be played at the A.J. Palumbo Center on the campus of Duquesne University.
After junior Deion Bute opened the game's scoring with a dunk, Saint Francis came back with four straight points and would lead throughout the opening half. The Red Flash used a 9-1 spurt over a span of 1:21 to push the lead to double-digits. Scott Meredith, who hit a pair of treys in the run, would make it 21-11 on a three-pointer.
The Blue Devils would close the deficit to six points with a spurt of six unanswered points late in the half. Sophomore Harrison Kay would sandwich a pair of jumpers around a layup by junior Austin Nehls. Kay's jumper at the 4:08 mark would get Central within 27-21.
The Red Flash pushed the lead to double-figures at halftime after scoring the final five points of the half. Jamaal King's three-point play with 1:08 left in the period would make it 35-23 at the break.
Both teams were 10-of-27 (.370) from the floor in the opening period, but SFU hit 7-of-13 (.538) from three-point range, while CCSU was just 2-of-10 (.200) from the arc.
Saint Francis scored the first four points of the second half to stretch the lead to 39-23 before Central's rally started.
The Blue Devils would outscore the Red Flash, 14-4, over the next 4:19 to trim the deficit to six points. A layup by Kohl and dunk from Bute opened the scoring spree that was capped off with eight straight CCSU points. After another Kohl layup, sophomore Joe Hugley and Kohl hit back-to-back three-pointers to make it 43-37 with 14:06 to play and force an SFU timeout.
The Red Flash would score on the ensuing possession, but Central would respond with a 13-0 run to take its first lead since the opening basket. Senior Mustafa Jones opened the run with a layup and was followed by three straight trifectas.
Hugley and Kohl would hit consecutive treys to tie the game at 45-45. Nehls would hit a three-pointer to surpass 1,000 career points and give CCSU the lead. Sophomore Tyson Batiste hit a layup to stretch the CCSU lead to 50-45 with 9:45 to go.
The Blue Devils would lead by as much as 60-54 with 5:09 to play, but SFU would rally to send the game to overtime. CCSU was held without a field goal down the stretch and the Red Flash would get a game-tying three-pointer from King with 4.9 seconds to play to send it to overtime, 61-61.
In the extra period, Kohl would hit two foul shots with 1:59 remaining to put CCSU ahead, 69-68, but the Red Flash would go 9-of-10 at the line and hold Central to 1-of-5 shooting to close the game. Saint Francis would win 77-71.
Central shot 56.0 percent (14-of-25) from the field to finish the game at 43.5 percent (27-of-62). The Blue Devils hit six three-pointers in the second half and were 8-of-21 (.381) for the game. CCSU held a 37-36 rebounding edge and had 16 assists to 13 turnovers.
Kohl matched a career-high with 28 points and added 13 rebounds for a double-double. He also posted a game-high eight assists. Nehls' 11 points gave him 1,001 for his career. Bute finished with eight points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
Saint Francis shot 21-of-53 (.396) for the game and was 9-of-22 (.409) from the arc. The Red Flash were 26-of-32 at the foul line, while the Blue Devils were 9-of-13.
King led three players in double-figures with 26 points, while Keith Braxton had 23 points and 14 rebounds.