A game that was expected to be a historic victory for the CCSU Men’s Basketball program turned into a sobering loss at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson.
The Blue Devils did not have an answer for FDU center and Connecticut native John Galvin as Central fell 80-73 at Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Galvin, a native of Weston, Conn., went off for a career-high 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting. He also added 13 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass.
Central Connecticut had just seven offensive rebounds as a team. Galvin was aided by the performances of teammates Sean Baptiste and Cameron Tyler.
Baptiste scored 17 points for the Knights and eclipsed 1,000 points for his career. Tyler nearly put up a triple double by posting 23 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists.
“Discouraging, depressing, disappointing,” lamented head coach Howie Dickenman. “The effort was minimal at best.”
Dickenman quickly focused on missed opportunities in his postgame comments.
“We had a pretty high number of missed layups. Might have been seven makeable layups in just the first half.”
Those missed layups combined with FDU making the most of their opportunities up close was the difference in the ballgame.
Central trailed for the vast majority of the game, by as many as 10 points late in the first half.
The Blue Devils were able to fight back and take a one-point lead with 3:28 remaining in the game. The cushion was short-lived, as FDU’s triumvirate of Galvin, Tyler, and Baptiste all made baskets as part of an 8-0 run in the following 1:46.
The lone bright spots for CCSU included Robby Ptacek, who had the hot hand offensively all night. The freshman guard shot seven for nine from the field en route to a careerhigh 20 points.
Thompson also played well, scoring 11 points and dishing out nine assists. He played all 40 minutes for the Blue Devils.
“I thought Shemik did a solid job as far as distributing the basketball,” said Dickenman. “Robby Ptacek was solid on offense, but as far as everyone else is concerned, I don’t think we got much of an effort.”
FDU attempted to establish the inside game early, involving 6’8” Czech forward Kamil Svrdlik in the first couple offensive possessions. He scored eight points in just 15 minutes, but left the game with an apparent lower leg injury.
From that point on, it was John Galvin’s show. The Knights scored 46 points in the first half, with 34 of them coming from in the paint.
“It’s tough playing from behind,” said Thompson. “We shouldn’t have been down in the first place. We gave up way too many points. They did whatever they wanted to do on offense.”
The crowd of 1,786 on hand was looking for anything to cheer about, but had nothing to celebrate except fleeting one-point leads.
“We probably should give the fans their money back,” said Dickenman.
“This is the first time I can remember in Detrick Gym that I heard a lot of disgusted fans, some catcalls, some clapping that was sarcastic,” Dickenman said. “But you know what? We deserved it.”
Marcus Palmer and Aaron Hall each scored in double digits in the loss. Hall left the game with an injury in the second half, and did not return. He did not play on Saturday, either.
“It’s disappointing,” Thompson said. “It’s embarrassing. We should have beat them. This is a game that we needed.”
Coming off such a staggering loss, Central’s next challenge was the Division II Bryant Bulldogs, who are making the transition to Division I and will join the Northeast Conference in 2012.
“They have six wins against [Northeast] Conference opponents,” explained Dickenman. “Every game against a league opponent is their big game.”
Central’s head coach made it clear that he would rather be facing another NEC opponent instead of going out-of-conference after such a sub-standard effort.
The Blue Devils were able to bounce back on Saturday against their future conference rivals, beating Bryant 65-61 on the road in Smithfield, R.I.
Ken Horton made up for a lackluster performance on Thursday, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds as he led CCSU to victory, number 1,000 in the program’s history.
Central shot over 54 percent from the field in the game, as they were able to keep the strong outside shooting of Bryant at bay.
It was a close contest, as the game was tied eight different times and the lead changed four times.
With the game even at 33 entering the second half, Marcus Palmer immediately responded to whatever was said to him at halftime.
The senior forward alone outscored the Bulldogs 7-0 to start the second half, with all three baskets being assisted by Shemik Thompson.
The Blue Devils now find themselves 7-7 in the NEC, and 12- 13 overall.
They head back into conference action this Thursday as they host the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who defeated the visiting Blue Devils 77- 69 on January 31. Gametime is 7 p.m. as Central attempts to put themselves back in position to host a home game in the NEC tournament.
-Kyle Dorau, Sports Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org