NEW BRITAIN - From the opening tip of the first half, the Central Connecticut State menâ€™s basketball didnâ€™t look ready to play.
Turnovers played a crucial role in the game as the Blue Devils committed 16 in the 71-57 loss to Robert Morris on Sunday.
The teamâ€™s leading scorer, Tyler Kohl, struggled mightily in the first half. He was 1-for-6 shooting with two points, five rebounds and a pair of turnovers. In the second half, Kohl saw a meager nine minutes on the floor.
â€śI doesnâ€™t have to do anything with [Robert Morris'] defense,â€ť CCSU head coach Donyell Marshall said of Kohlâ€™s performance. â€śIt has to do with the last couple days of practice. You play the way you practice and you practice the way you play. And you look at this game, weâ€™ve said for awhile we have guys that because weâ€™re winning - I donâ€™t know if it went to their head - we said when we ran into a team that was going to play hard, we were going to struggle.â€ť
CCSU (8-7, 1-1) was coming off of a big win against St. Francis, who was seeded first in the NEC preseason poll, Friday night.
â€śWeâ€™re not as good as we think we are,â€ť Marshall said. â€śYes, weâ€™ve won more games than we did last year. Yes, weâ€™re 1-1 this year starting out in conference. Last year we started out 0-7. Weâ€™re better record wise, but weâ€™re not as good as we think we are.â€ť
Robert Morris (8-7, 1-1) was 7-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half shooting, while CCSU was 3-for-9. The Blue Devils, though, outrebounded the Colonials 20-14 in the first half. But CCSU had just five points off its bench while Robert Morris had 14.
â€śThis loss is probably our worst loss of the year,â€ť Marshall said. â€śIâ€™m sure people look at [Boston College] and DePaul but those teams are bigger and stronger. Theyâ€™re way more talented. This is a team thatâ€™s our level and they really took it to us tonight.â€ť
Coming out of the second half, the game was within reach with the Blue Devils down just 10 points.
But Robert Morris eliminated any chance of a comeback for CCSU, starting the second half on a 15-4 run, running the floor and outworking the Blue Devils entirely.
CCSU scored five points in the final two minutes to bring the game within 14 points as Kashaun Hicks and Talek Williams provided the scoring at the end.
â€śIt was a 10-point game,â€ť Marshall said. â€śIf we had come out in the second half in the first four to six minutes and cut it down to two points then we would have had a chance.â€ť
Deion Bute and Mustafa Jones led CCSU in scoring. Bute scored a team-high 14 points while Jones was the other Blue Devil scorer in double digits with 12 points.
Charles Bain and Dachon Burke led the Colonials in scoring. Bain had a game-high 18 points, including a trio of 3s, as Burke chimed in 16 points of his own.
The Blue Devils held Robert Morris to just one 3-pointer in the second half, a positive in a day to forget for CCSU.
With the disappointment from the first unit, Marshall made it clear thereâ€™s no starting lineup set for next game, rather itâ€™s regroup time.
â€śTomorrow there is no first or second team,â€ť Marshall said. â€śWeâ€™re going to rearrange that and youâ€™re going to play off of your practice. Youâ€™re going to play off of how hard you practice. Weâ€™re going to put guys out there that are going to play hard, guys that are going to want to go out there and do whatâ€™s best for the team and not for themselves.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org