Despite a career-high 24 points from Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Bronx, N.Y.), the Albertus Magnus men's basketball team fell to Division I opponent Central Connecticut State University 85-82 in a close match-up at Detrick Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon in New Britain, Conn. The Falcons tied the contest late and took a one-point lead with less than a minute to play but CCSU battled back for the three-point victory.
The Falcons stayed in the game with the Division I program and had their chances to win the contest but the victory went in the Blue Devils' favor.
Ljuljdjuraj added 14 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive end, while he shot 11-of-17 from the field. He added five blocked shots.
Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.) scored 26 in his homecoming in New Britain, as he shot 11-of-21 from the floor with five rebounds and two steals. Eian Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) added 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists in 38 minutes of work.
Central Connecticut was led by Faronte Drakeford with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Kyle Vinales with 20 points and eight assists.
Today's meeting was the first between the two schools in men's basketball. With the win, the Blue Devils improve to 4-8 on the year after losing back-to-back contests, while the Falcons fall to 7-1 with the loss. The Falcons' lone loss of the season comes against the Division I program.
Albertus took its first lead of the game on a Davis bucket 1:40 into play before a 10-3 run by the Blue Devils gave Central Connecticut a 12-7 lead.
After a media timeout, three-straight buckets extended the Blue Devils' lead to 19-7, including a three-pointer by Kyle Vinales. Central Connecticut pushed their lead to 32-17 before an Albertus 30-second timeout.
After the called timeout by Albertus, the Falcons put together a 12-2 run to cut the Central Connecticut lead to five at 34-29 with 5:41 left in the half. During that run, Watson tallied six of the Falcons' 12 points.
The Falcons made the score 38-35 with two minutes left in the opening frame thanks to a layup by Ljuljdjuraj. A fast-break layup by Watson with a minute on the clock cut the Central Connecticut lead to one at 40-39. After a layup by Faronte Drakeford made the score 42-39, Davis answered to get the score to 42-41 but a three-pointer at the buzzer put the Blue Devils ahead 45-41 going into the halftime break.
In the second half, the Falcons remained close with the Blue Devils and cut the lead to 65-64 with less than eight minutes on the clock thanks to solid play from Ljuljdjuraj. Central Connecticut bounced back to extend its lead to 71-64.
With 2:21 left in regulation, the Falcons cut the CCSU lead to 79-77 thanks to a Ljuljdjuraj free throw. Central Connecticut missed multiple free throws in the final minutes to allow the Falcons to remain in the game.
A Watson layup tied the contest at 79 a piece with 1:27 left on the clock before Central Connecticut regained the lead with just over a minute to play.
A three-pointer by James Jennings (Stratford, Conn.) gave the Falcons their first lead of the second half at 82-81 before the Blue Devils' Vinales hit two free throws to give his team a one-point lead. Vinales hit two more free throws to extend Central Connecticut's lead to 85-82 to seal the victory.
Ljuljdjuraj put together his fourth double-double of the season with his 24 points and 14 rebounds.
With 26 points, Watson now has 1,676 in his career as he remains third all-time on the Falcons' scoring list.
Albertus returns home to New Haven to host Norwich University in Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play on Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 7:00 p.m.