The Central Connecticut State University men’s basketball team returned home after a three-game road trip and split two games in Detrick Gymnasium to Long Island University on Thursday night and Bryant University on Saturday. The Blue Devils defeated Bryant to secure their third win of the season, all of which so far have come at home.
Coming into the game against LIU, the Blue Devils had lost three in a row and were trying to grab a win against the Sharks after losing to them last month.
Sophomore guard Ian Krishnan and freshman guard Jamir Reed led the way in scoring for the Blue Devils on Thursday. Despite coming off the bench, Reed led Central with 17 minutes in the first half and hit 5/5 threes in the first 20 minutes of play and finished the game with a career-high 21 points. All of his points came from deep. He made seven out of eight of his shots from behind the arc and added eight rebounds and two assists. Krishnan finished the game as the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points on 7/15 shooting.
Freshman guard Trey Tennyson also scored in double-figures with 10 on 3/6 shooting and went 2/4 from three-point land. He also had three rebounds and three assists.
Tennyson made a driving lay-up to bring Central within one point with 20 seconds left in the first half. In the final 20 seconds of the first half, Reed fouled LIU’s Tyrn Flowers, who then knocked down both free throws to give the Sharks a 45-42 lead at the half.
LIU started the second half with a 7-0 run that the Blue Devils were never able to recover from, ultimately losing the game with a final score of 90-74.
The one thing that plagued the Blue Devils the most against the Sharks was turnovers. Central lost the turnover battle 20-10.
Head coach Donyell Marshall said that the sloppy ball security was an anomaly and that the team usually has better ball security in NEC play.
“This game was one of the rare ones we’ve had in the NEC for a while, we’ve actually been averaging only like eleven or twelve turnovers,” Marshall said.
The Blue Devils played much better on Saturday against Bryant and were boosted by the return of freshman guard Myles Baker, who did not play in the loss to LIU. Baker came off the bench in the first half against Bryant and hit 4/6 shots from the field with 3/5 coming from three-point range.
Baker finished the game with a career-high of 24 points on 9/13 shooting while going 5/7 from the three-point line and was the only Blue Devil to put up double-digit points.
Baker said he takes pride in his ability to be able to come off the bench and provide a spark for his team.
“That’s what the team needs, so I would do anything that the team needs in order to get the win,” Baker said. “I’ve been struggling, but the team is more important, so today I just tried to go out and play my best with the time that I had.”
The game was tied 33-33 at halftime. In the second half, the Blue Devils shot 53.3 percent from the field and were once again led by Myles Baker. Baker quickly hit back-to-back threes to regain the lead for the Blue Devils. Down the stretch, in the final minute of the game, the Blue Devils played stifling defense as they were able to come away with three takeaways that led to foul shots that they sank to ice the game with a final score of 75-70.
When asked about the team’s ability to close the game out in crunch time coach Marshall said that it shows signs of the team maturing.
“I think it shows we’re growing, I think that if you look at the last three weeks since the Wagner game, the team has been growing,” Marshall said. “I know a lot of people look at the wins and losses, but I think if you look at the way we’ve been playing, even in games we’ve been down, we’ve been fighting until the end and coming back. It was good to come back and get a quality win.”
Up next for the Blue Devils is a matchup against Fairleigh Dickinson at home on Tuesday, Feb. 18. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm inside Detrick Gymnasium. The Blue Devils lost to the Knights earlier this season with a score of 83-60 and will look to get a win this time around.