The Central Connecticut men's basketball team battled with Bryant for an 80-76 win Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils had a season-high of eight blocked shots and received a double-double from junior Tyler Kohl. The win improved CCSU’s record to 9-10 overall and 2-4 in NEC play.
Kohl led the Blue Devils in double-figures with 25 points and 11 rebounds while junior Austin Nehls added 14 points. Junior Deion Bute and senior Mustafa Jones had 10 points apiece while sophomore Tyson Batiste added nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
CCSU held Bryant without a field goal for nearly six minutes while obtaining a double-digit lead. Jones hit a layup at the 12:05 mark to give the Blue Devils a 12-10 lead.
Kohl and sophomore Tyson Batiste hit consecutive three-pointers as Central scored eight straight to increase its lead 18-10.
The Bulldogs hit a pair of foul shots before Batiste and Jones hit back-to-back layups to increase Central’s lead to 22-12. A three-point goal from Ikenna Ndugba with 6:51 in the half ended the field goal drought of 5:44.
Ndugba's three was part of a 6-0 run as Bryant checked back into the game.
The Bulldogs would eventually turn things around to take a 33-32 lead with 1:40 to go in the half after an Adam Grant three-pointer.
CCSU took back the lead, 34-33 at halftime after a jumper by Kohl with 0:38 to go in the period.
The Blue Devils held Bryant without a field goal for over five minutes pushing their lead to double-figures. Sophomore Joe Hugley hit a jumper and a three-pointer, sandwiched around a Nehls trey. Hugley's trifecta would give CCSU a 54-44 lead with 12:24 to play.
Nehls three-pointer with 9:46 to play put Central ahead, 63-49, for its largest lead of the day. The Bulldogs outscored CCSU, 17-6, over a six-minute span to get within three points after Ndugba hit a three-pointer 2:55 remaining.
The Blue Devils answered back with five straight points from Kohl to hold off the Bryant rally. CCSU went 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 16 seconds. Bryant hit a three-pointer just before the buzzer for the final score but it wasn’t enough.
CCSU matched a season-high with 17 assists on the day with Kohl and junior Eric Bowles tallying four each. Central shot 18-of-28 (.643) from the field after halftime to finish the game 32-of-58 (.552). The Blue Devils held a 37-28 rebounding edge and outscored Bryant in the paint, 38-26. Senior Shakaris Laney earned his third start of the year and blocked a career-high three shots to lead the Central defensive effort.
Ndugba scored a game-high 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Grant added 24 points for Bryant, which shot 27-of-64 (.422) on the game.
Central will host Fairleigh Dickinson Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7:00 p.m.