After falling down by as many as 14-points in the first half on Thursday night on Staten Island, Central Connecticut clawed all the way to tie the score at 49 with 5:40 left. However, Wagner closed on a 14-8 run, ultimately pulling away for a 63-57 win.
The loss drops CCSU to 5-8, effectively ending any outside chance that the Blue Devils had at sneaking into the top 4. Central now must focus simply on qualifying for the NEC Tournament.
The good news is that both LIU-Brooklyn and Sacred Heart lost on Thursday night, so CCSU remains in a 3-way tie for 7th place. However, thanks to a St. Francis U. victory over Fairleigh Dickinson and a Robert Morris loss, they would not qualify for the NEC Tournament if the season were to end today.
Struggles from Three
Basketball is a make or miss game, and on Thursday night Central did a lot of missing.
The Blue Devils made just five of their 26 three-point attempts (19%) while Wagner made 10 of 26 (38.5%). Tyler Kohl was 2 for 9, Ian Krishnan 1 for 6, and Joe Hugley was 0 for 3. Jamir Coleman did make 2 of his 6 attempts.
It's hard to win when you shoot that poorly from deep.
Critical Missed Free Throws
Over the final 1:30 of the ball game, Joe Hugley, Deion Bute and Tyler Kohl all missed critical free throws that could have made a difference.
Free throws were not a problem in this game; CCSU made 20 of 26, which is right at their season average (77%). But I can't help but wonder what would have happened if even one or two of those free throws had gone in.
Thursday was one of those night when Jamir Coleman looked like the best player on the floor. The 6'7" junior scored 17 points on 13 field goal attempts, and also chipped in 7 rebounds.
Coleman has looked like a different player since playing just 14 minutes in the home loss to LIU-Brooklyn, and has had at least seven rebounds in each of the last five games.
The Wagner defense bottled up Tyler Kohl on Thursday, holding him to just 4 for 15 from the field. He had an impossible time trying to get to the rim, and had to settle for a ton of jump shots. Of course, he still scored 18 points thanks to 8 of 9 from the free throw line, but had just two assists.
Ian Krishnan really struggled Thursday, finishing just 2 for 9 from the field (1 for 6 from three). However, I was impressed with the fact that he did not hang his head; with just under 10 minutes left, Krishnan had a bad turnover at the top of the key but hustled back and drew an offensive foul on Romone Saunders (his 4th of the game). He then knocked down a big three-pointer with eight minutes left to cut the lead to three. Growth!
Tyson Batiste played 33 minutes in the loss, with his biggest play perhaps his offensive rebound and dish to Joe Hugley for an "and 1" with 5:46 left, who tied the game with the free throw. Ultimate glue guy!
Central turned it over just ten times and were even on the boards with Wagner (both teams grabbed 33% of their own misses). The Blue Devils also got the line more often (26 times compared to 19 for the Seahawks). This game simply came down to a lack of made shots.
CCSU got zero points from the "top 6", as Kashaun Hicks was held scoreless (0 for 5 from the field), and Michael Underwood missed both of his three-point attempts.
Central Connecticut heads to Brooklyn to take on the Terriers of St. Francis on Saturday at 4pm. They're all big at this point.