NEW BRITAIN â€“ Holy Cross couldnâ€™t claw its way back to a lead Wednesday night, falling to Central Connecticut State menâ€™s basketball in a 73-67 final.
The win brings CCSU to 2-6 on the season, and moves Holy Cross to 2-6 on the season as well.
Holy Cross and CCSU kept the game close before an 8-0 run toward the end of the first half brought CCSU out ahead 28-20. Free throws and a jumper before the horn brought the game back to a five-point game, but the lead was one that CCSU didnâ€™t release from then on out.
A Nigel Scantlebury 3-pointer and an Ian Krishnan 3-pointer paired with a close-range basked created the run that CCSU needed to get ahead. Scantlebury finished as the leading scorer in the contest with 25 points on 8 of 10 shooting with Krishnan acting as a strong accomplice, scoring 16 on 5 of 8 shooting.
In the second half, the lead grew to 13 at 47-34, but the margin was never enough to keep Holy Cross completely out of the game. The Crusaders clawed their way back to a three-point difference with 1:15 to go on a pair of Kyrell Luc free throws but CCSU didnâ€™t break in the final minute and a quarter to hang on for the win.
Early in the contest the Crusaders pressed the Blue Devils, preventing them from getting out in transition quickly to get fast scores.
â€śTeams have been watching film on us and they see how uncomfortable we look against a press, and I told the guys everybodyâ€™s going to do it [against us],â€ť said CCSU menâ€™s head coach Patrick Sellers. â€śFinally in the second half, we had three straight possessions where we got the ball to our middle guy. â€¦ It took us out of rhythm early. Early in the game the offense was not in a good rhythm.â€ť
A guard heavy team, CCSU was beat physically underneath despite the win. Holy Cross did a good job of changing up the tempo, working the ball in the half court to find the mismatches, in order to keep the game close and CCSU on its heels despite leading.
â€śIt is a give and take. In my years of coaching, we always say speed kills,â€ť Sellers said. â€śYou like the speedy, quick guards you think can take advantage of a big. Sometimes when (the opponent) slows the game down, (the opponent) can take advantage of a smaller guard. We want to try to play to a little faster pace so we can make it our advantage, but in the second half they did a good job of slowing the pace down.â€ť
Elsewhere on the floor for CCSU, Andre Snoddy finished with 11 points and Zach Newkirk finished with eight points. The Blue Devils had four players finish with four rebounds â€“ Jayden Brown, Tre Mitchell, Newkirk and Scantlebury â€“ the team-high. Michell also led in assists while Joe Ostrowsky led in steals with three, one being an under the basket steal to prevent a Holy Cross score in the final two minutes of play.
Leading for Holy Cross Wednesday night was Judson Martindale, who scored 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting. Gerrale Gates had a double-double, scoring 16 points while grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
The win, after a double-overtime loss on Sunday, is what Central needs in terms of getting the energy back for the team after a slow start to the season in non-conference play.
â€śThese guys, â€¦ you cans see theyâ€™re getting rewarded for their hard work,â€ť said Sellers. It was definitely a shot in the arm (Wednesday).â€ť