NEW BRITAIN - CCSUâ€™s Joe Hugley may be a transfer player, but he certainly looked right at home in Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Hugley scored a career-high 21 points off the bench on 7-for-12 shooting, including 11 points in the second half, as the Blue Devils (4-3) secured their fourth straight victory with a 72-59 win over North Carolina A&T (5-2).
â€śMe coming off the bench is a great thing for the team,â€ť Hugley said. â€śEverybody jells and weâ€™re not worried about whoâ€™s getting the shot.
â€śWe just want to win and thatâ€™s the thing with me, Tyler and Deion coming in with experience. We played already for two years and we just know what it takes to win. Weâ€™ve all come from winning programs at the junior college level.â€ť
It is the first time since 2012 that CCSU has put together a four-game winning streak and it came with head coach Donyell Marshall back on the bench for the first time this season following his suspension, as the school conducted an investigation about an altercation between him and assistant coach Anthony Anderson.
â€śIt was great,â€ť Marshall said. â€śIt was funny because all day everybody asked me if I was nervous. I wasnâ€™t nervous about the coaching part, because thatâ€™s what I do. I was nervous about messing up the streak. With me obviously coaching different, playing different and calling different plays thatâ€™s what I was nervous about. So when that finally horn sounded and we got the win, it helped me relax a lot.â€ť
Following the first four minutes of the first half, the CCSU basketball team was struggling mightily to find any rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.
Yet the Aggies didnâ€™t take advantage, as they only scored six points.
The rest of the first half was a different story, as the Blue Devils outscored North Carolina A&T 30-17, led by Hugley off the bench, who sparked CCSU with nine points and showed the ability to make the defense work, as he drew a pair of fouls resulting in four free throw opportunities and he made all four.
The Blue Devils shot 80 percent from the stripe in the first half and led 32-23.
On the defensive end of the floor, Deion Bute started the game with a block in the paint and made his presence felt for the entire first half, protecting the rim as the three big men for the Aggies shot 4-for-12 from the field.
Bute also added four points in the first half.
Leading scorer Tyler Kohl struggled in the first half for the Blue Devils, showing frustration at times and scoring just two points.
Hugley, Bute and Austin Nehls combined to shoot 7-for-8 in the first half and scored 20 of the 32 points.
The first four minutes of the second half were a different story and Kohlâ€™s slow first half was not in anybodyâ€™s mind in Detrick Gymnasium as he came out on fire in all facets of the game.
Kohl had the first seven points in the second half for the Blue Devils and made his presence felt passing the ball, as he made some beautiful passes with the defense looking to stop him. He dished it off down low to Mustafa Jones a couple times and another pass went to Hugley.
The Aggies drew within four points with the game at 49-45 in the second half, but Kohl found Hugley down low and he finished off the pass with a huge momentum-shifting dunk that sparked a 10-2 run for the Blue Devils and put any hope for North Carolina A&T out the window.
With a pair of big games coming up in the next four games - DePaul and Boston College - the Blue Devils are feeling good and will look to keep the winning streak rolling on the road against Brown on Saturday.
â€śWe gotta keep our confidence,â€ť Nehls said.
â€śRight now our confidence is high since weâ€™ve won four straight. Weâ€™re going to play a couple games against DePaul and Boston College, who are two Power Five teams. We canâ€™t go in there thinking weâ€™re going to lose.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @OrencoleDan