Corey Sanders, Rutgers beat Central Connecticut State 75-59
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) It did not matter to Rutgers that Central Connecticut State was winless, as the Scarlet Knights needed a victory against any team.
Rutgers got what it was looking for, as freshman Corey Sanders had 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals to spark a second-half surge and a 75-59 victory over the Blue Devils Tuesday night.
Rutgers (4-5) snapped a four-game losing streak and coach Eddie Jordan could not hide his pleasure when asked if it felt good to finally get one.
''Oh my gosh, you know it,'' Jordan said. ''It doesn't come easy either. The first half was a struggle. You have to have patience as a coach, stay positive, jump them a little bit, hug them a little bit. They still have to make it fun.''
Sanders felt the celebration should not last too long.
''This is very important for us just to get back on our feet to feel better about ourselves'' said Sanders, who was 4 for 4 on 3 pointers. ''I told the guys don't let it get to our heads. Be happy about it for the moment but we still gotta come in and we have more work to be done.''
Bishop Daniels added 17 points, six assists and six rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (4-5), while Jonathan Laurent had a career-high 15 points and D.J. Foreman had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Brandon Peel had 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Blue Devils (0-8), who have lost 10 straight dating back to last season. Austin Nehls scored 12 points and Khalen Cumberlander had 11 for CCSU.
Rutgers took the lead for good late in the first half. Leading 38-36 midway through the second, the Knights began to apply defensive pressure and used a 15-2 run to open a 53-38 advantage. The margin stayed in double figures from that point on.
''The story of the game was our second-half approach and responding to some halftime reminders,'' Jordan said. ''That was pretty much the key; how we came out in the second half. We sustained it, kept pressure up.''
The Scarlet Knights took their largest lead at 75-54, as they made seven of their final eight shots to finish 28 for 57 (49 percent). Sanders, Daniels and Laurent combined to go 20 for 31.
Central Connecticut allowed a season-low in points, but offensively shot 38 percent (23 for 60) while committing 12 turnovers.
Neither team could take control in the first half as the biggest lead for either side was five. There were six lead changes and six ties before Rutgers ended the half on a 6-2 run for a 28-25 advantage.
''I thought we played well for a half or so,'' CCSU coach Howie Dickenman said. ''We played solid defense and kept them off the foul line. Then we got tired. They just broke us down. They got what they wanted in the second half. They made 3s.''
Central Connecticut: The Blue Devils last victory was 76-73, in overtime, against Sacred Heart on Feb. 21. CCSU has led at halftime just once this season in its opener with Hartford.
Rutgers: The Knights played their second straight game without forward Deshawn Freeman (knee), who will be re-evaluated next week. … Rutgers, which plays six of their seven December games at home, snapped a two-game losing streak at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. … Along with its Wake Forest loss on Nov. 30, this marked the second time in three games Rutgers played an opponent for the first time in its history.
Central Connecticut hosts UMass-Lowell on Friday, Dec. 18.
Rutgers is at George Washington Saturday.
- Austin Nehls
- Bishop Daniels
- Brandon Peel
- Central Connecticut State Blue Devils
- Corey Sanders
- D.J. Foreman
- Jonathan Laurent
- Khalen Cumberlander
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights