NEW BRITAIN - The CCSU men’s basketball team entered halftime of its game against Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday afternoon up by six. But as has been the case all season long, the second half did not go in the Blue Devils’ favor.
The Knights came out of the half on an 18-4 run to take a nine point lead less than eight minutes into the second half and CCSU had no answer. The Blue Devils were able to stay within striking distance for much of the half, but couldn’t get over the hump in an eventual 59-47 loss.
“We need to realize that there are 40 minutes in a game and not just 20,” CCSU head coach Donyell Marshall said. “We come out in the first half and we are fine. In the second half though, other teams come out and they are more physical than us.
“We don’t come out of timeouts well and guys don’t want to pay attention in timeouts so this is just going to continue to happen.”
Marshall did not make his players available for comment after the game.
With less than four minutes left in the game, Fairleigh Dickinson (7-10, 5-1) increased its lead to 10, which was its biggest lead up to that point, and that put the game away.
While the Blue Devils suffered another double-digit defeat, their 12th loss in a row, the defensive effort was actually a bright spot. In the first half CCSU (2-15, 0-6) held Fairleigh Dickinson to 28 percent shooting and 37 percent shooting for the entire game. The Knight’s top two scorers Darian Anderson and Stephan Jiggetts were held to 19 points on 4-19 shooting in the game. Despite those numbers, Marshall wasn’t too thrilled because the team allowed 12 offensive rebounds.
“I thought the initial defense was great,” the head coach said. “But part of defense is finishing out possessions and grabbing the rebound. If you play great defense then allow them to get an offensive rebound and score it means nothing. In the first half I thought the defense was awesome. In the second half I didn’t think it was very good.”
CCSU struggled offensively to get in much of a rhythm which is why it was held to just 47 points on 42 percent shooting. Mustafa Jones and Tidell Pierre led the way for the Blue Devils with 13 points and six rebounds apiece, while Austin Nehls added 12 points and five rebounds while knocking down three three-pointers.
“We do have trouble scoring,” Marshall said. “But we also don’t run the plays right. We have plays that we have run several times and scored off of those plays but we just didn’t run them right so when you struggle to score that doesn’t help.”
CCSU jumped out to an early 16-9 lead six minutes into the first half. Jones and Pierre combined to score the first 11 points for the Blue Devils. Early on CCSU’s defense was solid as Fairleigh Dickinson made just three of its first 13 shots.
The Knights took a 21-20 lead late in the first half, but that lead was brief. CCSU scored the next eight points, six of which came on two Nehls three-pointers, and went into halftime up 28-23.
Jones, Nehls and Pierre carried the load for the Blue Devils in the first half as that trio alone outscored Fairleigh Dickinson in the first half while making eight of their 13 shots combined.
“For whatever reason when we come out of the locker room at halftime we don’t play the same as we did in the first half,” Marshall said. “We just didn’t play smart.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at (860) 801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org