NEW BRITAIN, Conn. -- Joe Hugley came off the bench to score 17 on 7-of-9 shooting and Central Connecticut State never trailed in a 72-68 victory over preseason favorite St. Francis (Pa.) in a Northeast Conference opener on Friday night.
Mustafa Jones added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Deion Bute scored 10 for the Blue Devils (8-6). Reserve Tyler Kohl scored 11 with eight rebounds, but he had nine of CCSU's 17 turnovers. The Blue Devils, picked to finish ninth in the 10-team conference, have won three straight.
Keith Braxton paced the Red Flash (6-6) with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and seven steals. Jamaal King and reserve Scott Meredith added 14 points each and Andre Wolford scored 13. St. Francis lost for the first time in four games.
Jones scored four in a game-opening 12-2 run and the Blue Devils stretched their advantage to 35-21 at halftime.
The Red Flash forged their only tie at 68 on Wolford's 3-point play, but Hugley grabbed his own missed shot, was fouled, hit both free throws and CCSU had its victory.
Northeast Conference opener. St Francis was preseason pick. CCSU has won three straight now. Red Flash had three game win streak snapped.
The four-star forward could be a star right away for coach Dave Leitao.
The Blue Devils and Wildcats have dominated recent classes, leaving little room for the other programs to stay at the top.
The Gavitt Tipoff Games features matchups between Big East and Big Ten schools, including Villanova facing Michigan.