The Central Connecticut men's basketball team trailed by as many as 21 in the second half, but climbed to within two before dropping a 68-65 decision on the road at Bryant on Saturday afternoon. Junior Kyle Vinales scored a team-high 18 points and added six assists as the Blue Devils lost their second straight.
With the loss the Blue Devils are now 9-18 overall and 5-9 in Northeast Conference play. Bryant improves to 17-11 overall and 9-4 in the league.
The Bulldogs built a 46-25 lead early in the second half before a furious comeback for the Blue Devils brought them back into the game. They got as close as two twice in the second half, including 65-63, with 32 seconds left in the game. Following a Faronte Drakeford three, the Bulldogs hit one free-throw to push it to a 66-63 game and then called a timeout. On their next possession CCSU turned the ball over and were forced to foul the Bulldogs. Two free-throws made it 68-63 before a final basket from the Blue Devils cut the final score to 68-65.
Central trailed 41-22 at the half after the Bulldogs shot 17-of-33 from the field and hit a pair of threes in the first half. The Blue Devils struggled offensively, making just 7-of-26 from the field and 4-of-13 from three. They were 4-of-10 from the line, and were outrebounded 25-14 while turning the ball over seven times.
Freshman Matt Mobley led the Blue Devils with six points on a pair of threes. For Bryant Joe O'Shea had 14 before the break, making 5-of-6 shots and hitting one three. The Bulldogs had 11 assists on 17 first half baskets.
Central shot 16-of-31 from the field in the second half, and hit 6-of-12 threes in mounting the comeback. After trailing 46-25 they used a 30-11 run to cut the lead to two, 57-55, with 4:48 left in the game. Vinales had 13 points after halftime, including three threes.
Drakeford added 14 points and six rebounds for the Blue Devils. He was 5-of-7 from the field and made the three that cut it to two with under a minute to play. Sophomore Brandon Peel added 12 points and nine rebounds, while also getting three blocks. Mobley finished with nine.
Central continues the season on Thursday night in a key NEC game at LIU Brooklyn beginning at 7 p.m. The Blue Devils remain in the eighth and final playoff spot following Saturday's game. They remain just ahead of LIU, who lost at St. Francis University on Saturday.