The Central Connecticut men's basketball team capped the regular season with a 78-75 win in overtime against St. Francis Brooklyn at Detrick Gymnasium. The win clinched a spot in the Northeast Conference for the Blue Devils who were led by sophomore Joe Hugley and his 20 points.
The win improved CCSU to 14-17 overall and 7-11 in NEC play. The Terriers slipped to 13-17 overall and 10-8 in leagu play.
Central will travel to top-seeded Wagner on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Northeast Conference Tournament quarterfinals. The Blue Devils are making their first trip to the NEC postseason since 2013-14, but have faced the Seahawks in the quarterfinals in each of their last three postseason appearances.
The Blue Devils opened the game by scoring the first 10 points. Senior Mustafa Jones opened the game with a layup and his fastbreak dunk off a pass from junior Eric Bowles capped the initial flurry to make it 10-0 at the 17:20 mark.
The Terriers answered with six straight points and would hold the Blue Devils to just two field goals over the next 6:06. A Milja Cosic opened St. Francis Brooklyn's scoring to begin the stretch that would give the visitors the lead. After a layup by senior Shakaris Laney, SFBK answered with eight straight points and Chauncey Hawkins' layup would make it 19-16.
The teams would go back-and-forth for much of the rest of the half. An 8-0 CCSU spurt opened on a trifecta by junior Austin Nehls was capped off by five straight points from sophomore Chris Williams. A trey by Williams gave CCSU a 34-30 lead.
The Terriers would close the half by outscoring the Blue Devils, 10-2. A three-pointer by Hawkins with 42 seconds left in the half to make it 40-36 at the intermission.
St. Francis would push the lead to 49-40 following a Glenn Sanabria trifecta with 14:20 remaining, but that was as large as the lead would grow.
The Blue Devils would chip away at the deficit and a three-pointer by sophomore Joe Hugley would make it 60-59 with 6:32 left. After a SFBK layup, a layup by junior Tyler Kohl and a dunk by Jones would give CCSU a 63-62 lead with 4:05 remaining.
Rasheem Dunn scored five straight points as part of a 7-0 St. Francis rally. Glenn Sanabria hit two foul shots to make it 69-63 with 2:35 to play.
The Blue Devils rallied late with back-to-back hoops from Jones and Kohl with 1:30 to play. With 22 seconds remaining, Laney came up with a steal and got the ball to Bowles who was fouled. Bowles converted both foul shots to tie the score and send the game to overtime.
In the extra session, Dunn would sandwich a pair of buckets around a Kohl layup to make it 73-71. Hugley hit his fourth trey of the game to put Central up one before the Terriers regained the lead on a layup with 0:42 to play. A layup by Bowles would give Central a 76-75 lead and Kohl hit two foul shots to seal the win. A Terriers three to tie was off the mark with 0:01 to play.
Hugley went 5-of-6 from the field, 4-of-5 from the arc, to lead CCSU with 20 points. Jones added 14 points and eight rebounds. Kohl added 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Laney had seven points and three steals, while Bowles had eight points and five assists.
The Blue Devils shot 27-of-50 (.540) from the floor and 7-of-13 (.538) from the arc. CCSU was 17-of-23 (.739) at the foul line and outrebounded the Terriers, 34-23.
Dunn led four players in double-figures for SFBK with 20 points and nine rebounds. The Terriers were 30-of-63 (.476) from the field and 9-of-26 (.346) from three-point range.
Central will travel to top-seeded Wagner on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the Northeast Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.