The Central Connecticut St. Blue Devils dropped to 2-3 on Saturday with an 80-69 loss to pre-season league favorite St. Francis University.
CCSU went into halftime up 39-34, and increased their lead to 42-34 with an Ian Krishnan 3-pointer less than a minute into the 2nd half.
I'm not a huge believer in momentum...if momentum is so important, then how does it change so quickly?...but it was at this point in the game that I thought the Blue Devils needed to put this game away. Then, this happened:
One game after committing three fouls on three-point shooters at Mount St. Mary's, Jamir Coleman got whistled for this one. I'll be honest, from where I was sitting at Detrick Gym I could not see the foul, and it's incredibly possible it was simply a bad call. But regardless, that cannot happen.
Prior to the Wolford three-pointer, CCSU had an 8-point lead and an 83.6% win expectancy, according to Bart Torvik. Two minutes later, after SFU had completed its mini 11-1 run, the Red Flash were up 1 and the Blue Devils win expectancy was all the way down to 51.7%. Momentum? Perhaps.
Lest anyone think the game was lost on Jamir Coleman's foul...it most certainly was not.
The Blue Devils jumped back ahead by 5-points at the under-12 timeout, and clung to a 3-point lead after a Coleman lay-in (with his patented drive left, spin right move) with 9:18 remaining.
Central Connecticut failed to score a point for 7 minutes and 27 seconds, and failed to make a field goal in over 8 minutes. In between Coleman's layup and his made free throws with 1:51 left, SFU scored 14 points, turning a 3-point deficit into an 11-point lead. You want to talk win expectancy's? From 73.3% to 0.8% over that 7 1/2 minutes. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Tyler Kohl's Bad Half
Kohl sometimes reminds me of a baseball pitcher who tends to struggle in the first inning, perhaps giving up a couple of walks and hits, then settles down to shut the opposing team down for the next 5 or 6 innings. He often starts out slow, almost feeling out the opposition, before taking over.
On Saturday, it felt like that's what was happening. His first half was quiet, 3 of 7 from the field, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. But then the second 20 minutes started, and...well, it didn't go well.
The Blue Devils star player missed all nine of his field goal attempts (and even a free throw), finishing the day 3 for 16 from the field (1 for 7 from three) and just 8 points.
NEC defenses have been working to take Kohl out of the game, with Sacred Heart, Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount St. Mary's continually double-teaming him to get the ball out of his hands. It mostly failed, as Kohl just used his passing ability to find open teammates. Rob Krimmel zigged while others have zagged, instead face-guarding Kohl in an attempt to limit his touches. Kohl had to work awfully hard to even get the ball, and when he did he was not in position to make a play. Hats off to Krimmel.
With that said, Kohl also made some questionable decisions, none worse than his behind the back pass with 12:25 left and CCSU up 5 and looking for more. I thought Donyell Marshall was going to lose his shirt.
Kohl's 66 O-Rating on the day was his worst output in 22 career NEC games. And given how much he does for the offense, it's difficult for the Blue Devils to withstand this kind of an off-night from their best player.
Am I worried? Nope. Great players bounce back after games like this. Don't be shocked if Kohl has the best game of his career on Monday.
The Blue Devils were outscored 32-18 in the paint on Saturday, which is shocking considering that last season CCSU outscored the Red Flash by a combined 14-points in the paint in two games.
Yesterday, CCSU was just 8 for 21 "at the rim", with Kohl missing all 5 attempts, Hugley missing 3 layups, and Coleman converting just 3 of 7. As a team, they made just 15 of their 39 two-point attempts.
After playing just 12 minutes at Mount St. Mary's on Saturday, Jamir Coleman had quite a game. 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in 34 minutes. "Good Coleman" is an all-NEC level player, that's for sure.
Tyson Batiste continues to be really good offensively. In just 22 minutes, the CCSU point guard had 8 points, 5 assists and just 1 turnover and now has 18 assists against just 5 turnovers in five conference games.
Thai Segwai hit a big three-pointer early in the second half, when the Red Flash defense was basically daring him to shoot, and he also had a nice driving runner. If he can give them even a little bit of offense, he can be a big plus off the bench considering his ability to defend.
Joe Hugley had a quiet day, and still put up 11 points and 7 rebounds in just 17 minutes.
There appeared to be quite a bit of bickering going on between CCSU players on Saturday; at one point Tyson Batiste was yelling at someone (perhaps Tyler Kohl, though that's just a guess) and had to be held back by Baba Diallo. Then, after Kohl gambled for a steal in the backcourt which resulted in a 4-on-5 for SFU, Joe Hugley was visibly frustrated. It could mean absolutely nothing, but it was noticeable.
Andre Wolford came into the game shooting just 28.9% from three, but went 5 for 11 on Saturday. Maybe that game gets him going.
In my latest NEC Reset, I said that the NEC POY race was probably between Tyler Kohl and Romone Saunders. Well, it looks like Keith Braxton shouldered his way into that conversation. 19 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and just 2 turnovers on Saturday. Dude's a stud.
There's no shame in losing to St. Francis University; their a supremely talented team that is as good a bet as any to win the league.
However, now the games get really big. I firmly believe CCSU needed to go 4-2 over this six game stretch to have a shot at a home-game in the NEC Tournament. Well, now they are 0-1.
The home-stand continues on Monday, with the Blue Devils hosting Robert Morris in a matinee at Detrick Gym. Bobby Mo is currently in alone in 1st place at 3-1 after their win at Bryant on Saturday.