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CCSU Men’s Basketball Falls To La Salle 85-59

The Blue Devils’ Men’s Basketball team lost its fourth straight match-up on Thursday night, falling to La Salle 85-59 for their first home loss of the season.

“That was a good team out there,” Head Coach Howie Dickenman said. “We had the opportunity to face a good Atlantic-10 team, and I think they’re the best in the A-10.”

CCSU (5-6, 2-0 NEC) knew it had a tough opponent in the Explorers (8-4, 0-0 Atlantic-10), but as everyone noted in the pregame warmups, they would have to face them without their best player, Kenny Horton, who had injured his ankle in practice just a few hours prior to the game. La Salle lost by just seven points to Villanova, and by just four points to Pittsburgh, who are both big programs.

The Blue Devils have seemingly been bitten by the injury bug lately, as they are also without De’Angelo Speech, Shelton Mickell, and Justin Alexander.

“[La Salle] Coach Giannini came up to me after the game and said ‘I’m sorry your best player didn’t play,'” Dickenman said. “But, our focus is to get these guys ready for league play.”

The Blue Devils fell behind early, with the Explorers going on a quick 7-0 run in the first minute and 42 seconds of the game. CCSU would fall behind by double digits with 14:18left in the half, as the Blue Devils had 2 turnovers and 7 missed shots.

As the half continued, so did CCSU’s struggles. It took them nine minutes to break into double digits, but they were already down 26-11 at that point. The abysmal first half would end with La Salle leading by 30 points and not a single CCSU player was in double figures.

“At the half, I didn’t make up any crazy stories about doing this or that and go out there and win the game,” Dickenman said. “I told them that I wanted them to go out there and beat them in the second half, to start over with it being zero to zero.”

The Blue Devils did just that, beating the Explorers 37-33 in the second half. They were led by Kyle Vinales, who had 11 points in the second half, and Robby Ptacek, who added 10 points. Both players would finish with 16 and 14, respectively. Adonis Burbage also added 14 points, while David Simmons contributed 9 points off the bench.

The 26 point margin of victory was the worst that CCSU has seen at home since January 14th, 2010, when the Blue Devils fell by 31 points to Quinnipiac.

The Blue Devils won’t play a game until December 30th at UMass, who they beat 92-63 last year at home. The game against the Minutemen will be their final out of conference match up, as league play will start up again on January 5th versus St. Francis (PA.)

As for Kenny Horton, Coach Dickenman said he would be “shocked” if he wasn’t back for the UMass game.

Men’s Basketball Can’t Handle First Place LIU

By Christopher McLaughlin

Though the CCSU men’s basketball team had one of its better offensive performances of the season, it could not withstand a second-half onslaught by Long Island University.

The Blue Devils (18-11) held on to a two-point lead at the half and even matched its first half totals in the second, but was ultimately defeated 86-72 to finish the regular season.

There was no stopping LIU (24-5). After shooting 36 percent in the first, LIU nearly doubled it shooting percentage, shooting 64 percent in the second half. Despite having four players in double figures, the Blue Devils just couldn’t match LIU’s efficiency.

“They attacked in the second,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman “Some was a result of us missing shots, but it got to the point where you knew it was going in regardless of who took the shots. When they shot the ball, I started raising my hands to signal it was good before it even went it.”

Neither team scored a point until the 17:30 mark, when LIU got on the board with a lay-up. Ken Horton tied it on a three-pointer the next possession for the Blue Devils, with the teams going back and forth for a few minutes. An LIU three-pointer opened a 10-2 run, but the Blue Devils got a big spark from Chris Baskerville, who scored six straight to cut into the lead.

“Chris is a real lift guy for us,” said Dickenman. “He’s still trying to learn the nuisances of the game, but he gave us a nice lift today.”

With the lead erased, the teams began trading baskets again, this time for the rest of the half. The Blue Devils got another big boost from Horton, whose 14 first-half points helped counter LIU’s balanced scoring.

Horton finished the game with his twelfth double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He finishes the regular season first in the NEC in points averaging 20 per game and second in rebounding with nine per game, only .1 behind the leader. He is also first in blocks and in the top ten of every other category except assists and three-point percentage, a feat no one else in the NEC is close to.

“Kenny was Kenny today,” said Dickenman

LIU finished the season in first place with a commanding lead on the rest of the pack. It has won 10 straight games and appears to be the favorite to win the NEC Tournament. While the team didn’t live up to its standards in the first half, LIU more than made up for it in the second.

A 9-0 run for LIU started the half and the Blackbirds didn’t look back. With the improved play from Shemik Thompson and Robby Ptacek, the Blue Devils kept it close as long as possible. Both players had been struggling recently, but seemed to break out of their slumps in the second half.

Despite the recent shooting woes, Ptacek finishes the season seventh overall in scoring averaging 14.9 per game and Thompson rounds out the top 20 at 12.3. Ptacek also finished first in free throw percentage while Thompson was third in assists and second in steals.

“Shemik showed he is a quality player today,” said Dickenman. “He hadn’t been shooting well, but finished 6-11 today. He played with a spark and I’m pleased to see it. Robby’s game was better, he’s been in a funk and he came out of it. He should be proud, we need him.”

The Blue Devil’s seemed determined to match the offensive output from LIU, but the points began to add up. LIU had a clear size advantage and made full use of it, constantly feeding the ball down in the paint.

CCSU did its best to stop them, but its best often resulted in whistles, as LIU drew fouls. LIU was sent to the line 15 times in the second half. Fifteen free throws isn’t a lot, but considering CCSU was only sent once, it sure seemed like it. Despite everything, the game was still manageable for CCSU, until David Hicks hit three straight three-pointers, all in the exact same spot.

“One player who will remain nameless didn’t get out to Hicks and he made us pay,” said Dickenman.

The third was the dagger and though CCSU never gave up, the game was essentially over. The loss is the third straight for CCSU and its fourth in the last five games. Though the team is limping into the NEC Tournament, Dickenman did take away some positive signs.

“I saw the intensity which has been lacking of late,” said Dickenman. “I saw positive sparks of intensity, focus and ball pressure and I want to build on that. We do have a home game and I know the crowd will be there to support us.”

Now in fourth place, CCSU will take on fifth place St. Francis (N.Y.) Thursday night to kick off the tournament.

Loss to Quinnipiac Drops CCSU to Third in NEC

By Chris McLaughlin

Ken Horton scored 35 of the Blue Devils 67 points. Photo: Adam Tulloch.

Leaving it all on the floor, the CCSU men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker 68-67 to Quinnipiac in what could have been a preview of the NEC tournament.

Despite yet another MVP performance from Ken Horton, the Blue Devils (18-9) couldn’t overcome the rest of the team’s ineffectiveness on offense. It was Quinnipiac (19-8) 67, Horton 35 with the rest of Blue Devils chipping in 32 points in CCSU’s final home game of the season.

Horton’s 35 points were a career high. He not only scored more than half the points that both teams put up, but he also more than doubled the next highest scorer in the game and almost quadrupled of CCSU’s next highest scorer. Add in nine rebounds, four blocks and two steals to his already inflated stat line, and its clear no player in the NEC is as valuable to their team as Horton. Even though the rest of the team struggled, the Blue Devils still had a chance to win.

“There wasn’t any flow to the game,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “We had a tournament type atmosphere, but we didn’t make plays when we had to. Ken didn’t have a supporting cast, and with how poorly we shot it would have been thievery in the first degree if we won.”

Since it was the last home game of the year, it was also Senior Day for the Blue Devils. Honored before the game, Shemik Thompson and team manager Matt Stevens, took part in the final home game of their careers. With a packed house full of energy, the Blue Devils final home game of the season got underway. Riding the energy, Horton scored the first six points for CCSU, including a fast break dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.

“If I play with a lot of energy, the guys kind of feed off me and we’ll pick it up another level. Today that didn’t happen but we will correct our mistakes,” said Horton.

After getting elbowed in the face, Thompson went to the foul line for his technical free throws. In what summed up the game best, Thompson missed both of the free throws. The chippy play didn’t stop there.

After making a lay-up and drawing a hard foul, Horton got in the face of Tevin Baskin and was promptly given a technical. Later in the half, Quinnipiac’s Dave Johnson was also given a technical for arguing with a referee. Once again, Thompson missed both of the free throws that came with it.

“We feel that the foul line is out best friend,” said Dickenman. “Free throw, F-R-E-E throw, so we tried to take advantage and for the most part we did. When you go to the foul line for four technicals that’s great, but we couldn’t convert.”

With Horton’s 16 first-half points, the Blue Devils went into halftime with a slight lead. The lead didn’t last long into the second however, and Quinnipiac began to pull away.

Going on an 11-4 run, the Bobcats brought its lead up to 10 at the 12:20 mark. A timeout was called and put a halt to Quinnipiac’s rising momentum.

Sparked once again by Horton, CCSU quickly tied the game up with only Horton being able to generate any offense. Even with the momentum back on CCSU’s side, the team could not pull away. The defense was there for the Blue Devils, but the offense wasn’t. As a team, CCSU made only 17 field goals, 10 of which Horton’s.

“I’m not sure if I can ask for more from Ken, he scored more than 50 percent of our points, rebounded, blocked shots, made 13 of 14 free throws, but he didn’t get a lot of help.” said Dickenman.

With the clock winding down, CCSU trailed by one and had a chance to walk away with the win. Dickenman drew up a play for Horton, but good defense from Quinnipiac forced him to heave up a prayer well beyond the arc. The shot missed and Thompson grabbed the rebound and despite being knocked to the ground no foul was called and the game ended.

“I was hot during the game so I wanted the ball,” said Horton. “I got a clear shot but it didn’t go in.”

Though the Blue Devils are locked in the tournament, this loss bumps them from second place. CCSU is tied in the conference with Quinnipiac, but lost the season series with them.

“We had a chance to lock up second place tonight, but now were in a dog fight,” said Dickenman. “We have to get back to doing what we do best and that’s making shots.”

The Blue Devils will look to rebound from its second home loss of the season and regain some momentum before the tournament. The team travels to New York on Thursday to take on St. Francis before finishing out the regular season at Long Island University.

CCSU Men Hold Off Sacred Heart

Devan Bailey led CCSU with 5 assists on Thursday night. Photo: Adam Tulloch

By Chris McLaughlin

It was a nail biter in a boring sort of way as the CCSU men’s basketball team hung on for a 57-56 victory over Sacred Heart Thursday.

With both teams struggling offensively, the game was close throughout. While defense was a factor, both teams missed shots that normally would fall.

Neither team lead by double digits, but the Blue Devils (18-8) stayed on top for the majority of the game. Down one in the final seconds, Sacred Heart (9-17) had time for one last chance to pull off the upset, but was unable to do so, missing the final shot.

“Well it wasn’t picturesque,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “We lacked the poise we are accustomed to having, it was very un-Blue Devil like. The way we played it’s a wonder we’ve won 18 games, but we escaped, and we won, that’s what the final score said anyway.”

Both teams got off to a slow start with neither team scoring in the first two minutes of play. Things picked up once the teams settled into the game, but points were still hard to come by in the first half. The Blue Devils shot just 26 percent in the first half and Sacred Heart was only slightly better. Even foul shots weren’t going in, as neither team shot for a respectable percent from the charity stripe.

“We didn’t play our best and we know it, but we did win the game so it’s on to the next one.” said Ken Horton.

Each time a team got a run going it was matched. While CCSU slowly built up a nine-point lead, Sacred Heart erased it before the Blue Devils could score again. With the game tied, Vince Rosario hit a three pointer to give CCSU the lead. Since Sacred Heart only brought the lead to one, the three pointer would be the difference in the half and ultimately the game.

“We made a lot of silly mistakes,” said Dickenman. “We missed shots we shouldn’t have but we have to give Sacred Heart credit. They were almost eliminated from the tournament but still played as hard as they always play.”

When the second half started, so did the offense. Both teams came out with a chip on their shoulder and shots that clanged off the rim before swished through the net. After being limited in the first half offensively, Ken Horton came out strong in the second and took over the game for a struggling CCSU. Horton was feeling it and knocked down four three-pointers in the second half to keep Sacred Heart at bay. He finished with a game high 18 points, including 14 in the second half.

“When I missed those free throws in the first I kind of took myself out of the game, so coming out in the second half I wanted to make sure I was aggressive and made my shots, and luckily I was able to,” said Horton.

Like the first half, however, Sacred Heart was there to match whatever the Blue Devils had done. Once again, CCSU jumped out to a nine point lead but it quickly vanished. Though Sacred Heart responded to CCSU’s runs, it couldn’t make up the difference the Blue Devils’ three-pointers gave them. CCSU connected on nine three-pointers while Sacred Heart only four. In a game where CCSU shot from a lower percent, the nine threes were crucial.

“Vince made three three-pointers, Ken made five, and we needed every one of them,” said Dickenman.

With 25 seconds left, Sacred Heart began its last drive of the game, down only one. Instead of looking for a quick shot, Sacred Heart dribbled the clock down in an attempt to hit the game-winning buzzer beater. This allowed CCSU to settle on defense and put the pressure to Sacred Heart. With no time left Nick Greenbacker forced a contested three and bricked it.

“We didn’t make good decisions with the opportunities we had, but when it came down to when we had to make a stop I thought we did a good job, and forced them to shoot the ball with the last person they wanted to shoot the ball,” said Dickenman.

Already a lock for the NEC tournament, the Blue Devils will continue to battle for home court advantage as the season winds down. With only three games left, the Blue Devils play its final home game against Quinnipiac before closing out the regular season in New York.

Bryant Takes Rematch in Overtime Against Blue Devils

By Chris McLaughlin

Despite the late game heroics of Shemik Thompson, the CCSU men’s basketball team saw its seven game win streak snapped, falling to Bryant 85-80 in overtime on the road Saturday.

While the Blue Devils (17-8) were able to defeat Bryant (9-17) last Wednesday at CCU, the rematch didn’t treat them as well.

Bryant controlled much of the game, but after Head Coach Howie Dickenman received a technical foul, the Blue Devils battled back. With a chance to tie in the final seconds, Thompson knocked down a three-pointer and sent the game to overtime. Though CCSU jumped out to a quick lead in OT, Bryant was able to respond and come out on top of this closely contested rematch.

“You saw two different teams than the two that played last time,” said Dickenman. “Last game we took it to them, but this game they took it to us.”

During the last game, Bryant was very successful shooting the three early, but the Blue Devils were able to shut them down. On Saturday, CCSU did not. Bryant was able to connect on seven threes in the first half, missing only five. After being shut out in the previous game, Bryant guard Frankie Dobbs led the Bulldogs with 10 points, including two of the three pointers.

“We were late getting out on shooters and late on our rotations,” said Dickenman. “Last game we were able to shut them down, but we couldn’t in this game. We looked lethargic on defense and we were missing that energy and emotion.”

The Blue Devils struggled on defense in the first half and if Ken Horton didn’t have another MVP type performance, they could have been blown out. Horton finished the half with 15 points, almost half of the team’s total.

Like the last game, Horton was able to score at will down in the thin Bryant front-court. Going 7 of 8 for the half, he kept CCSU afloat, as Bryant shot lights out. Horton finished the game with his tenth double-double of the season, collecting 27 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.

“If you take away the performance from Horton, the rest of the starters were 11-44 for the game. We really can’t ask for much more from him,” said Dickenman.

Though the game was manageable going in to halftime, Bryant began to pull away at the start of the second half. The Bulldogs brought its lead up to 10 and frustration began to set in on the Blue Devils.

When a charge was called a blocking foul against the Blue Devils, Dickenman erupted, and was assessed with a technical. As the crowd was going nuts, the Blue Devil players met in the center of the court to regain composure.

Before Bryant had all day to shoot its threes, now the Blue Devils were there with pressure. Prior to the technical Robbie Ptacek settled for jumpers, now he drove the lane for contested dunks. Before Thompson’s contested threes rimmed out, now they fell right in. It wasn’t long before CCSU brought the lead to one possession.

“I obviously didn’t get T’d up on purpose, but I think the effect was positive,” said Dickenman.

Down three with 18 seconds left, the Blue Devils faced a difficult situation: Foul or play defense. Dickenman went with the latter and the full-court press forced a bad pass causing a turnover. Now with seven seconds left, the Blue Devils went with a play similar to the one used against Fairleigh Dickinson to send that game to overtime. Chris Baskerville threw the ball down court, where it was picked up by Thompson who ran beyond the arc and sank the shot.

CCSU rode that momentum and jumped out to a four-point lead, but then went ice cold. In the final two minutes, the Blue Devils didn’t score once and Bryant capitalized. Led by Dobbs and Cecil Gresham, Bryant closed out the game with a 9-0 run.

“It was a disappointing game, but they deserved to win,” said Dickenman “They made a lot of threes, and it was the type that, when they shot them, you knew it was going in.”

Following this tough loss, the Blue Devils will look to regain momentum in the next two games by coming back to Detrick Gymnasium, where they are 10-1.

Horton’s Performance Helps Blue Devils to NEC Win

By Christopher McLaughlin

Backed by an MVP-caliber performance from Ken Horton, the CCSU men’s basketball team routed conference opponent Bryant 71-55 Wednesday.

Posting his NEC leading ninth double-double of the season, Horton led the Blue Devils (17-7) to its seventh straight victory. Horton led everybody with 23 points and 11 rebounds. While that would be enough to garner support for the NEC MVP award, Horton didn’t stop there. His six blocks and six steals may have put Horton as the leading candidate for the award, showing his ability to dominate a game on both sides of the court.

“Lots of guys on the floor helped me get open and I was able to knock down the shots,” said Horton. “I’ll do whatever it takes, whatever they need me to do I’ll do.”

The atmosphere was electric as the game tipped off in front of a packed Detrick Gymnasium. Fans brought energy for this televised game and the Blue Devils responded by jumping out to an early lead.

“Very good crowd tonight,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “It’s very nice to have a crowd like that. Like my father always said, ‘It pays to be a winner.’”

After a timeout, however, CCSU started to get overwhelmed by Bryant’s barrage of three pointers. Bryant (8-17) caught fire from beyond the arc knocking down five three-pointers to put the Bulldogs up 24-14.

“We had to bring the pressure,” said Horton. “Coach said we didn’t bring pressure for the first nine minutes, but we made an adjustment and cut down on their threes.”

The adjustment worked, as Bryant wouldn’t make another three-pointer for the half. Without the threes falling at the other end, CCSU was able to close the gap and eventually take the lead while going on a 14-0 run.

The Blue Devils continued to feed the ball down low as Bryant lacked a post presence to stop them. CCSU outscored Bryant 20-8 in the paint for the first half and with the lead in hand the Blue Devils never looked back.

“I talk often about our goal of 40 minutes of misery,” said Dickenman. “For the first nine minutes, for whatever reason, we didn’t pressure, so I have to settle for 31 minutes of misery.”

The first half ended close at 31-29 and the Blue Devils came out in the second to prove it shouldn’t remain that way.

Horton’s performance set the tone for the rest of the team. It wasn’t long until the game was out of reach for Bryant. The Blue Devils led by as many as 24, showing no mercy on defense, with nine steals and five blocks in the second half.

“We showed a spark in the second half, but I wish it was for 40 minutes,” said Dickenman. “Ken just gets better and better, we’re really spoiled by him. Our core three has really flourished and its been a really fun year. Even without the winning its fun to be around the guys.”

While he had the stats backing him up before the game, Horton’s performance may have solidified him as the MVP. Leading the NEC in points and barely trailing in rebounds, it will be difficult to find reasons to give the award to somebody else.

“I won’t say Horton’s the MVP, but…I wasn’t nodding that was just a crick in my neck,” said Dickenman.

The Blue Devils remain one game out of first place in the NEC behind Long Island University. Both teams seem to have forgotten how to lose as they have both won at least five straight. While not yet in first, the Blue Devils have at least clinched a spot in the NEC tournament.

Knowing the importance of home court advantage, the Blue Devils will continue to battle for first place. CCSU will go to Rhode Island to rematch Bryant on Saturday and will return home next week to face Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac.

Horton Returns from Injury with a Vengeance

By Christopher McLaughlin

Ken Horton. Photo: Kenny Barto.

After missing all of last season because of an injury, junior forward Ken Horton has returned to form and has played a major role in the Blue Devils winning season.

“It feels good to win games,” said Horton. “It was more of a mental thing getting back, but I know what I’m supposed to do and I try to do it every night. After taking the year off, coming back to be a part of the team and winning games is all I could ask for.”

Horton is averaging 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds leading not only the Blue Devils, but the entire NEC, in both categories. Should he finish the season still on top in both of the categories he will be only the fifth player in NEC history to accomplish that feat.

All season long Horton has been a consistent presence for the Blue Devils and has been a driving factor to the teams success. He was an integral part of CCSU’s comeback over Fairleigh Dickinson and led the team to victory in overtime. His play in that game, and the game against Monmouth, saw him awarded the Hotel Choice Player of the week award for the second time this season. During the week Horton averaged 25.5 points and 12 rebounds.

“The award shows a lot of work, but I don’t take it personal. Coach always said that when a player wins an award it’s a team award because it means the team also did well,” said Horton.

While some players are never the same following a major injury, Horton has shown no adverse affects. He is actually playing the best basketball of his career. In addition to leading the NEC in points and rebounds, he is in the top 10 of six other categories including blocks, steals and field goal percentage. He has scored 30 plus twice this season which puts him at the top of the active players in the NEC in this category. His six 20 plus games this season have also put him at the head of that list as well.

Horton has been a scoring machine this season and recently joined another elite class of players. On December 22, Horton became the 33rd player in CCSU history to record his 1,000 career point. Horton joins teammate Shemik Thompson, who also scored his 1,000 point this season, and the two of them have been rapidly moving up the list of CCSU’s all time scorers. If Horton keeps up his average he will be in the top 15 by the end of the season.

“It feels good to be a part of history,” said Horton. “But more importantly its real nice having the pressure off my back, its nice to be able to concentrate on my play instead of having everybody talking about one-thousand points.”

Having a player of Horton’s caliber is every coach’s dream. While Coach Dickenman knew Horton would take a little to get back to form he is pleased he was able to do so quickly.

“Our staff is very comfortable whenever he has a shot,” said Dickenman. “We feel that he is as good as any player in the NEC right now.”

While Horton has won awards and made history this season, he knows that it means little in the grand scheme of things. Horton is a true team player and to him the performance of the team outweighs his individual accomplishments. With March looming the intensity is picking up and Horton wants his team to be prepared.

“Personally I would love to win the NEC, but as a team we take it game by game. If we win great and if it’s a loss we take it and try to build upon it,” said Horton.

With the season entering its final month, Horton and the Blue Devils are in prime position to make some noise in the NEC. The team is currently in second place in the conference and will continue to battle as it fights for home court advantage in the NEC Tournament.

Blue Devils Top the Mount

By Christopher McLaughlin

The CCSU men’s basketball team turned in another dominating performance, rolling through NEC opponent Mount St. Mary’s 71-52.

The Blue Devils (13-7) were led by Ken Horton, who finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, picking up his third straight double-double and sixth of the season. Though the bulk of the scoring came from Horton, Shemik Thompson and Robbie Ptacek, every player for the Blue Devils contributed. All eleven players who entered the game scored for CCSU.

“We played forty minutes of complete basketball,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “We have an identity of a defensive team and our guys did a good job of wreaking havoc and though everyone scored you can go back to Ken and Shemik for leading us to victory.”

The game began in typical CCSU fashion with the teams trading baskets until the Blue Devils’ grinding defense took over. The Mount (7-15) went over six minutes without a point in opening of the first half, allowing CCSU to build a comfortable lead.

Though the Mount was able to get a couple baskets and trim the lead to six, the team was unable to put together the type of run that would get them back in the game. The Blue Devils defense was as stingy as ever and stifled the Mount’s shooters all game.

Every shot the Mount took was contested, preventing the team from getting into any type of rhythm. CCSU, on the other hand, had no troubles on offense and seemed to score at will. Both Horton and Thompson finished the first half with 10 points and Ptacek had eight. If nobody else on CCSU scored, the lead at the half would have only been five. Unfortunately for the Mount, this was not the case, and halftime saw the NEC rivals trailing by a much larger margin.

“We had three goals coming into this game,” said Dickenman. “Defend the ball screen, defend the post and play pressure defense. We did a very good job with all three.”

The second half was more of the same as CCSU continued to dominate. The Blue Devils’ big three of Thompson, Horton and Ptacek continued to put in work and put the last nail in the coffin long before the final buzzer.

The Blue Devils led by as many as 25 points in this one sided affair and it wasn’t long until chants of “Alexander” rained down from the crowd. The fans got their wish, as both Justin Alexander and Mark Laporte, CCSU’s rarely used freshmen, were put into the game.

Despite the blow-out, both the fans and the Blue Devil’s bench erupted when both players were able to score in the final minute. It was a fitting way to end a game where everything went right for the Blue Devils.

“It was a good win, but we can’t rest on what’s been done,” said Dickenman. “We know that every game we have to improve.”

The win was the third in a row for the Blue Devils, who have now won eight of their last 10. CCSU is currently tied for second place in the NEC at 6-3 and are only one game out of first place, which is held by Long Island University.

The Blue Devils look to gain some ground when the team they’re tied for second with, Wagner, comes in on Saturday the 29th.

Buzzer Beater Leads to Overtime; Blue Devils Steal Win

By Chris McLaughlin

Using the momentum of a Shemik Thompson buzzer beater, the CCSU men’s basketball team won an overtime thriller 72-67 over Fairleigh Dickinson.

Despite trailing to FDU (4-14) by four with 10 seconds left, the Blue Devils (12-7) remained poised and were able to send the game to overtime. CCSU was able to chip away at the lead and benefited from FDU’s missed free throws.

With three seconds left, the Blue Devils used a threw the ball down court where it was picked up by Ken Horton and dished to a wide open Thompson, who drove straight to the basket for a lay-up to beat the clock.

“I knew I wanted the ball,” said Thompson. “I didn’t want to lose at home, and I knew if he missed the free throw I was going to make the shot.”

While the game had a dramatic finish, it started out as any other. The Blue Devils traded baskets with FDU for much of the first half. While the team was able to build a small lead, it was all but erased in the closing minutes of the first half.

The Blue Devils were led by Thompson who had 13 points in the first half, while FDU was led by Briahn Smith, who had nine. Though neither team played well offensively, both played stingy defense. The teams shot from under 40 percent and committed several turnovers. The closely contested first half ended 28-26 with CCSU on top.

“Our games with FDU have always been back and forth,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “We lost down there so we knew we had to get one back.”

During the final minutes of the first half, it appeared that FDU was starting to take over. The team closed the half scoring five unanswered points and the athletes picked up where they left off in the second. The small run turned into a 13-0 run as CCSU’s offense went stagnant.

FDU went up by eight before CCSU began to pick it up on offense and creep back into the game. Horton and Thompson helped trim the lead, but every time CCSU was on the verge of tying it up, a turnover would prevent them from doing so.

Though FDU maintained its lead until the final seconds, when Thompson hit the buzzer beater, the lead would have been much larger without the defensive play of De’Angelo Speech. He caused three five-seconds calls, including one in the final minute. The score was kept close and when Terence Grier missed his free throw, CCSU was given the chance to tie.

“The last play we called home run,” said Dickenman. “Once they get it they do a head fake and go to the basket. Shemik got it, took one dribble and overtime.”

Using the momentum from the buzzer beater, CCSU came out strong in overtime. Though the offense had struggled for much of the game, it showed up in overtime. While the regulation belonged to Thompson, overtime was all Horton’s. His nine overtime points kept CCSU on top and secured the team’s miracle win. Both Thompson and Horton finished with over 20 points and 10 rebounds to pick up the rest of the team.

“This is one game we shouldn’t have won,” said Dickenman. “We were down four with under 10 seconds, but I always say good players step up their games and Ken and Shemik proved that today.”

The Blue Devils have won two straight and are gaining ground in the NEC. The men’s basketball team continues conference play when Mount St. Mary’s comes to New Britain on Thurs. Jan. 27.

CCSU Men’s Win Streak Ends At Five

By Christopher McLaughlin

Even with Ken Horton’s 31 point performance, the CCSU men’s basketball team saw its five game win streak snapped when LIU defeated the Blue Devils 72-67.

The Blue Devils (10-7, 3-3 NEC) led for much of the game, but were unable to close it out. CCSU led up until the six minute mark of the second half when LIU (13-4, 5-1 NEC) went on an 11-0 run to overtake CCSU, sending the Blue Devils to its first home loss of the season.

“It was certainly a winnable game,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “When we needed to make shots we were unable to.”

The game began with each team trading baskets until CCSU broke it open and jumped out to a 10-point lead. The Blue Devils were led by Robby Ptacek, who had 18 points in the first half, and Ken Horton, who had 13. Both Ptacek and Horton have been in a groove during the Blue Devils win streak and picked up where they left off.

The Blue Devils played aggressively on defense during the first half, but committed several key fouls. D’angelo Speech, Devan Bailey and Shemik Thompson all picked up three fouls a piece in the first half, causing them all to play more cautiously on defense. While the Blue Devils led by as many as 13 in the half, the lead began to dwindle in the closing minutes. LIU, led by David Hicks, was able to trim the lead to six before the end of the half.

“Robby and Ken had good shots early, but LIU began focusing on them more in the second half,” said Dickeman.

Though LIU seemed to be creeping back in the game at the start of the second half, CCSU maintained its lead for the majority of the half. Every time LIU would get to close Horton would knock down another three to keep CCSU up. His four second half three pointers were the reason CCSU maintained the lead for so long.

The focus of the second half for LIU was preventing Ptacek from scoring. LIU switched to a zone defense and smothered him, hardly allowing him to breathe. Before long, LIU did the same to Horton, and CCSU’s lead vanished. Foul trouble once again plagued the Blue Devils in the second half, as LIU was sent to the line 14 times, which helped chip away at the lead.

“They played zone and concentrated on Ken and Robby,” said Dickenman. “We need to play better defense to overcome that, but then we got in foul trouble.”

Though CCSU’s offense sputtered in the second half, the team kept the game close and had chances to tie in the final seconds. Down three, the Blue Devils were looking for a three to tie, but turned the ball over. CCSU fouled instantly and sent LIU’s C.J. Garner to the line for a one and one. He missed the shot and Horton grabbed the rebound, but CCSU was unable to sink the three to tie the game. The Blue Devils were forced to foul again, but this time Garner made both shots and put the game out of reach for CCSU.

“The first time we got caught windshield wiping and they anticipated where the pass was going and got it,” said Dickenman. “We still could have won, but the next shot didn’t fall. It was a disappointing loss, but we’re not discouraged at all. We’ll be back.”

The Blue Devils are on the road for the next three games, and will return home on Jan. 22 when Fairleigh Dickinson comes to New Britain.