A late second-half run lifted top-seeded Central Connecticut State past #5 seed Mount St. Mary's, 74-68, in the Northeast Conference semifinals at Detrick Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon. Trailing by four with 7:45 remaining, Central Connecticut (21-11) scored nine straight points to take the lead for good.
The Mount (11-20) grabbed a 59-55 lead after a Sam Atupem turnaround jumper with 7:45 remaining. The Blue Devils, however, answered with nine straight points to take a 64-59 advantage with five minutes left. Obie Nwadike started the run with a pair of free throws and a traditional three-point play by Jemino Sobers gave the Blue Devils the lead, 60-59. Sobers and Nwadike each added another basket in the run.
The Mount fought back, and cut the deficit to 66-63 with 2:40 left on a Gus Durr putback. CCSU, however, got a pair of Nwadike free throws, a stop on the next possession, and a pair of Dannie Powell foul shots for a 70-63 edge with 1:11 left. Chris Vann nailed a three-pointer for the Mount with 29 seconds left to make it 72-68, but CCSU sealed the win with a pair of free throws for the final of 74-68.
"I'm really proud of the effort our guys put out tonight," said Mount St. Mary's head coach Milan Brown. "We just came up a little short against a very good team."
In the first half, Vann poured in 15 points to pace the Mount to a 39-35 halftime advantage. Mychal Kearse added 10 points and four rebounds in the opening half for the Mount, which shot 56.0 percent from the field in the half.
Trailing 29-26 after a pair of Sobers free throws at the 6:05 mark, the Mount closed the half on a 13-6 run with Kearse scoring the Mount's final eight points.
Sobers and Nwadike each scored 20 points in the win while Tristan Blackwood and Javier Mojica added 13 and 12 points, respectively, in the win. Vann finished with a game-high 22 points for the Mount while Kearse added 16 points and nine boards in his final game in a Mount uniform.
CCSU held the Mount to 37.1 percent shooting in the second half and 45.0 percent in the game while converted 50.0 percent in the second half and 46.6 percent overall.