NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – With time winding down in overtime, Cane Broome found a cutting Quincy McKnight, and the freshman delivered the game winning layup with just .2 seconds remaining to put the final touch Sacred Heart’s thrilling 80-78 comeback win over Central Connecticut State in Northeast Conference action at Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Trailing by as many as 15 in the first half, and by seven with less than nine minutes to go, SHU (3-13, 2-3 NEC) got a chance to win it in overtime thanks to Jordan Allen’s layup on an out of bounds play tying the score at 70 with just two seconds left in regulation. Broome had tied the game with a three-pointer just 29 seconds earlier, before Khalen Cumberlander answered with a driving layup eight seconds later for a 70-68 lead.
After Allen put Sacred Heart on top 13 seconds into the extra period, both teams went cold, as the next point did not come until Brandon Peel’s free throw made it 72-71 at the 2:55 mark. Following a McKnight tip in and two Austin Nehls free throws, Broome gave the Pioneers a 76-73 lead on a jumper with 1:20 showing to set up a final wild minute.
Austin Nehls first drilled a deep three-pointer to tie the game at 76 with just under one minute remaining. It took McKnight just 15 seconds to put SHU back on top on a driving layup, but again Central Connecticut had an answer. Peel’s jumper tied the game back up with 29.3 seconds showing, giving the Pioneers the final possession and a chance to win it.
After shooting 37.9 percent (11-29) in the first half, Sacred Heart made 20-36 for 55.6 percent in the second half and overtime to finish at 47.7 percent for the game. The Pioneers also made a season-best 16-19, 84.2 percent, from the free throw line.
SHU held Central Connecticut to just 40.6 percent shooting, but the Blue Devils stayed in the game thanks to making seven more three-pointers, 9-2. The Pioneers dominated the paint, outscoring CCSU 46-18, but the Blue Devil bench outscored the Pioneer bench 31-6.
Falzon led the charge at the foul line, becoming the first Pioneer to make a perfect 10-10 at the line since Louis Montes did so at Brown on November 29, 2012. He had a double double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in the second half and overtime alone, and finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, also adding four blocks for his second double double of the year. The 14 rebounds and four blocks were new season-highs, while the scoring total was one point shy of a season-best and two shy of a career-best.
Cane Broome also came alive after halftime, scoring 18 of his game-high 24 after the break on a near perfect 8-9 shooting. McKnight finished one rebound shy of his first career double double with 17 points and a career-high nine rebounds, also leading the team with two steals. Allen contributed 11 points and six rebounds, while Sean Hoehn dished out a team-high four assists.
Jahlil Nails led Central with 18 points, 14 of which came in the first half on a perfect 5-5 from the floor and 4-4 from beyond the arch. Nehls added 16 and Cumberlander and Evan Phoenix each added ten. Cumberland and Peel led the Blue Devils with four assists each, while Phoenix grabbed a team-high eight boards.
Sacred Heart will look to carry the momentum of the victory into another road game, at St. Francis Brooklyn, on Saturday at 4 pm. The Terriers were on the other side of a late game-winner on Thursday, falling 61-59 at Bryant to fall to 6-12 overall and 2-3 in the NEC.
Falzon is averaging 16.0 points, 12.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in his last three games against Central Connecticut
Entering the game with 796 and 779 points, respectively, both Allen and Broome surpassed 800 for their career.
The 84.2 free throw percentage is SHU’s second best since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, a total of 48 games, trailing on the 84.6 percent (11-13) the Pioneers made on December 28 of last year at Brown
Inside the Box
The two teams battled to near even rebounding numbers, with Sacred Heart holding the slight 42-40 edge thanks in large part to Falzon and McKnight
SHU turned the ball over 18 times and had just ten assists, while CCSU had 18 assists and 13 turnovers
How it Happened
After Central Connecticut jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead on Bowles triple 1:03 into the game, Sacred Heart took the first of two first half leads with six unanswered points over the next 2:43.
A Hoehn layup put the Pioneers up 7-5 and after the Blue Devils responded with a three-pointer, a McKnight layup with 13:59 remaining gave SHU a 9-8 lead
Trading baskets to make it 14-13 CCSU on Falzon’s layup with 11:27 left, the Blue Devils would then score eight in a row, ending with a Nails jumper at the 8:21 mark for a 22-13 advantage.
Falzon came back with two free throws eight seconds later, shrinking the deficit to 22-15, but again it was Nails with the answer as his trifecta put the Blue Devils ahead double digits and the lead would get no smaller than eight the remainder of the half
One of those occurrences came when Broome made a layup with 5:55 to go, but Central Connecticut went on a 7-0 flurry over the next 2:20 for the game’s largest lead, 34-19, when JJ Cratit made 1-2 from the line
Sacred Heart tried to steal some momentum heading into the half, scoring eight of the final ten points to cut the deficit to 36-27 on Eyimofe Edukugho’s floater five seconds before the buzzer
Broome led the SHU charge out of the locker room, scoring the first six points of the half in just 1:53 to bring the Pioneers within three, 36-33
He then tied the game for the first time since the11:42 mark of the first half, draining a three-pointer with 14:47 showing for a 40-40 tie
Phoenix came back with a layup the next trip down the floor and Central gradually extended its lead from there
The Blue Devil lead reached seven points three times, beginning with Mustafa Jones’ tip in to go up 53-46 with 9:37 left. It also reached seven at the 9:09 mark and 8:29 mark
After Nails going 2-2 at the line with 7:46 to go, SHU scored eight unanswered over the next 2 57 on 6-6 from the line, capped by 4-4 from Falzon for its first lead of the second half, 61-59
CCSU responded with a 7-2 run to go up 68-65 on a Peel jumper with 58 second on the clock s