All five starters scored in double-figures for the third time this season and the Central Connecticut men's basketball team used a strong second half to top New Hampshire 87-84 on Wednesday night. Sophomore Kyle Vinales scored 27 points to lead the offense. It was his sixth straight game with 20 or more points, the most for a Blue Devil in 16 seasons.
Junior Matt Hunter added 18 points as the Blue Devils, the best free-throw shooting team in the country, hit 16-of-18 from the line on their way to their fourth victory of the year. Central is now 4-3 overall on the season. UNH is 3-5.
Senior Joe Efese posted a season-high 15 points in the game, followed by 13 from sophomore Adonis Burbage and 12 from sophomore Malcolm McMillan. Hunter added eight rebounds. Vinales had seven assists and three steals.
The point totals for Efese and McMillan matched their career-highs. Central is now 4-0 this season when scoring 80 or more points.
The Blue Devils were down 10-2 early and had trouble getting off shots and taking care of the basketball. Down 19-6, McMillan hit a three to make it 19-9 and fuel an 8-0 run which made it 19-14.
UNH stretched its lead back to 29-17, but the Blue Devils scored six straight on three UNH turnovers to make it 29-23. Central got it to within one point on two separate occassons in the half, including 33-32 with 4:01 to play.
UNH led 41-35 at the half after Central scored just three points in the final four minutes of the half. The Wildcats hit 6-of-12 from three in the half, an forced 10 CCSU turnovers which led to 16 points on the other end of the floor.
UNH opened a 53-41 lead in the first three minutes of the season half. Down 12, Vinales hit his second three of the game to make it 53-44 and start a big run for the Blue Devils.
The run reached 15-2 and the Blue Devils took their first lead of the game, 56-55. UNH hit a three on the other end, but a three-point play from McMillan gave Central back the lead, 59-58, with 11:16 on the clock.
The Blue Devils opened a 74-71 lead with under six minutes to play following a free-throw from Efese. Vinales hit a three on the previous possession to record his 24th point of the game. Following a UNH turnover, Vinales made another bucket to make it 76-71. McMillan scored his 10th point, and was the fifth player in double figures, to make it 78-73 with under four minutes to play.
McMillan made another clutch basket under two minutes and made it a six point lead. It was 82-78 in favor of the Blue Devils but a held ball on the offensive end led to a possession and basket for the Wildcats with 36.1 on the game clock. They held off the Wildcats in the final minutes, and made their free-throws, to claim their fourth win in five games.
The Blue Devils return to action on Saturday night on the road at #1 Indiana, beginning at 6 p.m. The game will air live on the Big Ten Network.