The Central Connecticut men's basketball team fell to Wagner, 64-62, on a last-second shot at Detrick Gymnasium in Northeast Conference action on Thursday night. The Blue Devils tied the game with seven seconds to play, but JoJo Cooper hit the game-winner with 0.3 remaining to lift the Seahawks. Sophomore Joe Hugley led CCSU with a game-high 17 points, while junior Austin Nehls chipped in with 15 points on five three-pointers.
The loss drops Central to 13-17 overall and 6-11 in the NEC, while Wagner improves to 21-7 overall and 14-3 in league play. The Seahawks have already clinched the top seed for the league's postseason, while CCSU remains one game up on Sacred Heart with one league game to play on Saturday. The Blue Devils will clinch the final postseason berth with a win, or a Pioneers loss this weekend.
Central hosts St. Francis Brooklyn to close the regular season on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. and is Senior Day for the Blue Devils' Mustafa Jones, Shakaris Laney and team manager Joe Waida.
Nehls hit two three-pointers to open the Blue Devils' scoring and give them an early lead. The Seahawks answered with 10 straight points and outscored CCSU, 16-4, over a 4:17 span to build an 18-10 lead. JoJo Cooper scored the final four points of the spurt for the Seahawks.
CCSU came back with seven unanswered points to close within a point. The Blue Devils' first four field goals of the night came via the three-pointer, but junior Eric Bowles would covert a driving layup to make it 18-17 at the 8:20 mark.
A three-pointer by Nehls and jumper from junior from Deion Bute would give Central a 24-22 lead. The Blue Devils would stretch the lead to 32-26 after Nehls' fourth trifecta of the half.
Wagner would score five straight before Hugley hit a pair of foul shots to send CCSU into halftime with a 34-31 lead.
Wagner scored the first five points of the second half to regain a 36-34 lead. The Seahawks would hold CCSU to 4-of-14 shooting to open the period and used a 10-2 run to push the lead to eight points. Romone Saunders would hit a layup and a foul shot, sandwiched around a jumper from AJ Sumbry to make it 52-44 with 9:10 to play.
CCSU would cut the deficit to a possession with five straight points. A pair of foul shots from Jones and a three-pointer from Hugley would make it 54-52 with 5:33 remaining.
Wagner responded with five straight points to push the lead back to 59-52 with 4:23 to play, but the Blue Devils would again push back with five straight of their own. After a three-pointer by Saunders made it 62-57 with 1:27 to play, junior Tyler Kohl would hit a three-pointer with just under a minute to play to get Central within two points. After a missed shot by the Seahawks, CCSU would get the ball with 21 seconds remaining. Kohl would drive the lane and lay it off to Bute who hit the game-tying layup with 0:07 to play.
On the final possession, Cooper would take the inbounds and go the length of the court, before hitting a fall-away jumper with 0:00.3 seconds remaining for the winning shot, 64-62. CCSU would inbound, but a final heave was just off the mark.
Hugley finished with 17 points, six rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal. Nehls went 5-of-9 from the arc to finish with 15 points and added five boards. Kohl chipped in 13 points, a game-high six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Central shot 21-of-45 (.467) from the field and was 11-of-22 (.500) from the arc. CCSU shot 9-of-10 at the foul line.
Saunders led five Seahawks in double-figures with 14 points. Cooper finished with 13 points and four assists.
Wagner shot 26-of-56 (.464) from the floor and was 7-of-14 (.500) from the arc. The Seahawks outrebounded CCSU, 30-24.
Central closes out the regular season on Saturday against St. Francis Brooklyn at 3:30 p.m.