The Central Connecticut men's basketball team rallied in the second half, but were unable to overtake Robert Morris and fell, 74-64, in Northeast Conference action on Saturday at Detrick Gymnasium. Central would trim a 19-point deficit to five points in the second half, but were unable to get any closer as RMU would hold on for the win to clinch the final NEC Tournament berth.
The loss drops the Blue Devils to 5-22 overall and 3-13 in the NEC, while the Colonials improve to 11-18 overall and 7-9 in the NEC.
Senior Khalen Cumberlander scored a game-high 24 points to lead CCSU. Cumberlander moved into 29th on the CCSU career scoring list with 1,120 points. Sophomore Austin Nehls was the only other Blue Devil in double-figures with 14 points.
The Colonials would lead 36-21 at halftime and score the first four points of the second half to build its largest lead of the game. A jumper by Kavon Stewart and two foul shots from Isaiah Still would make it 40-21 with 18:02 remaining.
Nehls would answer with a four-point play, igniting a 14-0 run as the Blue Devils stormed back into the game. After a layup by junior Mustafa Jones, Cumberlander would roll off eight straight points. He would convert an alley-oop off a pass from Nehls and then hit a three-pointer to make it 40-35 with 15:31 to play.
RMU would score three straight points as part of a 6-1 burst to push the lead back to double-figures and keep the lead for good. Still's three-pointer would make it 46-36 as the Colonials would manage to hold off the Blue Devils' charge.
Central would score seven straight to get within six points at the 3:35 mark. Cumberlander would score the first four points before Nehls' triple got CCSU within 60-54, but RMU would manage to seal the game at the foul line. The Colonials would hit eight straight and go 14-of-16 at the stripe in the final 2:48 to pull away. A jumper by freshman Chris Williams and a three-pointer by classmate Antwann Anderson would close the scoring for Central and settle the final margin.
Robert Morris used an early 10-0 run to take a 15-10 lead after senior Tafari Whittingham gave CCSU a five-point lead. Clive Allen would open the spurt with a layup and then hit back-to-back three-pointers to cap it off and put RMU in front.
After Cumberlander would tie the game at 15-15 with 9:28 in the first half, the Colonials would limit CCSU to just two field goals the rest of the half to build a double-digit lead. A dunk by Still would open a run of 11 straight points as RMU would go ahead by 13-points with 3:20 left in the first half and eventually build a 36-21 lead at the intermission.
Central would shoot 22-of-60 (.367) from the field for the game and after missing its first six three-pointers of the day, would finish 7-of-18 (.389) from the arc. The Blue Devils went 13-of-25 (.520) at the foul line.
Jones would finish with seven points and a game-high eight rebounds. Freshman Tyson Batiste gave out five assists, against just one turnover, and had two steals for the Blue Devils.
Still led the Colonials with 22 points and eight rebounds. Allen added 12 points and Aaron Tate chipped in with 10 points and eight boards.
RMU finished 19-of-45 (.422) from the field and was 5-of-15 (.333) from the arc. The Colonials went 31-of-43 (.721) from the foul line.
Central hosts St. Francis Brooklyn in its final home game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7:00 p.m. CCSU will honor seniors Khalen Cumberlander, Tidell Pierre and Tafari Whittingham, prior to the game.