by Patrick Gustavson
A tall task was in order for Central Connecticut’s men’s basketball team on Thursday night, when they traveled to Staten Island to take on Wagner. Not only were the Seahawks the perennial favorite in the Northeast Conference, they had also not lost a game on their home court all season.
Despite a respectable, and at points strong, showing, the Blue Devils were unable to overcome this task, falling to the Seahawks by a score of 72-59.
The aspect in which the Blue Devils struggled the most was shooting, particularly from the outside. The team shot just 37.7 percent from the field, and only connected on two three-point shots the entire game.
The struggles could be attributed to stellar defensive efforts of Wagner’s guards, thwarting most attempts of the Blue Devils from at or beyond the arc.
Tyler Kohl continued his excellent play, leading all scorers with 21 points, to go with a whopping 16 rebounds, which is more impressive considering his 6 foot 5 inch stature.
The Blue Devils then traveled to Sacred Heart on Saturday, taking on a Pioneers team who was just 2-9 in NEC play entering the day. It was a golden opportunity for the team to bounce back following two tough losses.
However, the team was not able to capitalize, falling to the Pioneers, 67-54.
The Blue Devils showed well in the first half, hitting on 54 percent of their attempted field goals, as well as hitting on four of their nine attempted threes. Thanks to a deep three from Kohl at the horn, the team led 30-27 at the break.
However, things did not keep up for the Blue Devils, as they were outscored by the Pioneers 40-24, leading to their 13-point defeat.
Marshall believes the breakdown was due to his team’s lack of toughness.
“All it is is that they were tougher than us,” he said. “We’re tough to each other, but we’re not tough to the other team.”
At the under four-minute timeout, where the Blue Devils trailed by 13, Marshall was visibly upset to the point where he threw his clipboard to the ground.
The Blue Devils were dominated in the paint, being outscored by the Pioneers 34-18. Big man Mario Matasovic, in particular, took over in the second half, scoring seven of his 16 points, in addition to bringing in six of ten rebounds.
For the Blue Devils, forwards Mustafa Jones, Joe Hugley and Deion Bute combined for just four total rebounds, much to the dismay of Marshall. The lack of aggressiveness may have been due to all three players being in foul trouble.
Kohl was once again a bright spot offensively, scoring 25 points, in addition to 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals. As reigning NEC player of the week, Kohl’s two performances have put him in a position to possibly take home the honor for the second-straight week.
Following the losses, the Blue Devils are now 5-7 in the NEC, tied for seventh with Fairleigh Dickinson. The loss to Sacred Heart also gives the Pioneers a glimmer of hope to make the NEC tournament, now just two games out of eighth place.
The next game for the Blue Devils is Thursday, at home against Mount St. Mary’s. Marshall said after the game that he is unsure how to prepare his team for the game, following the disappointing loss.
In their previous meeting, the Mountaineers soundly beat the Blue Devils by a score of 78-51. But if there is one thing the team has shown, it’s their ability to win at home, having lost just one game at Detrick Gymnasium all season.
A win against the Mountaineers would put the team back on track before their rematch against Sacred Heart on Saturday.