Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cleveland State defeats Detroit Mercy for 2nd straight win

Two games ago, Dennis Felton made a tough decision to shorten the bench and play only the eight best players.

That decision has paid immediate dividends as Cleveland State has won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"We are playing the guys that understand what we are doing the best," Felton said following Cleveland State's 75-72 victory over Detroit Mercy Wednesday night at the Wolstein Center. "I think we found a good rotation that gives us our best chance to succeed with some consistency."

Felton's current rotation includes starters: Tyree Appleby, Bobby Word, Kenny Carpenter, Anthony Wright and Stefan Kenic, with Jamarcus Hairston, Kash Thomas and Terrell Hales coming off the bench.

With two weeks to go before the Horizon League tournament, CSU  (8-20, 5-10 Horizon League) continues to play its best basketball of the season.

They have won three of its past five and continues to move up in the conference standings.

The win adds even more momentum to a Vikings team that hopes to secure the sixth seed, which would include a first-round bye.

The Vikings are currently tied with Green Bay for eighth-place, only a game back of sixth-place Youngstown State, who knocked off Oakland 75-73 on a buzzer beater Wednesday at the Beeghly Center.

Felton said he's not concerned about conference seeding right now.

"I literally only concentrating on winning today," said Felton. "I want to control today and give us our best chance to win today. I haven't put any thought into league standings, seedings, or tournament brackets."

The Vikings jumped out to an early 16-2 lead and took a 40-32 advantage at the half.

Detroit Mercy (7-20, 3-11 HL) scored the first 11 points of the second half to take its first lead of the game, 43-40.

That led to a quick timeout by CSU.

Following the timeout, CSU would regroup and regain the lead.

"We got to get stops," Wright said of what Felton told the players during the timeout.

CSU clamped down on defense, holding the Titans to just three field goals over the next six minutes.

 A 16-6 run gave the Vikings the lead for good, 56-49. CSU held on for the final 11:49.

The Titans would make several late runs, but CSU was able to answer back each time.

The closest UDM got to was one point at 64-63, but then CSU answered back with a pair of free throws from Kenic and a three-pointer from Carpenter to push the lead out to six.

"It was good to figure out a way to win another close game," said Felton. "This was the second straight game where we were better with maturity, poise and composure, working through some things and have successful possessions at crucial times."

Kenic led the Vikings with a career-high 19 points. Wright added 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Carpenter added 11. Thomas contributed eight points and five assists.

Roschon Prince led the Titans with 22 points and nine rebounds.

Oakland visits the Wolstein Center on Friday.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cleveland State basketball completes 2018 recruiting class with prep wing

Cleveland State men's basketball coach Dennis Felton completed his 2018 recruiting class Tuesday when prep wing Dibaji Walker announced plans to play for the Vikings near year.

Walker, 6-foot-7, is the son of former Louisville star and NBA player Samaki Walker.

The Columbus native chose the Vikings over offers from Wyoming, Eastern Michigan, Central Conn. State, Sacred Heart and Elon, among others, according to Verbal Commits.

A graduate of Independence High School in Columbus, Walker is taking a prep year at Woodstock Academy in Connecticut.

Felton's first full recruiting class consists of six players: a point guard, two wings, and three bigs.

Six-foot-three point guard Rashad Williams is likely the prize of the group. The Detroit, Mich native gives the Vikings an instant deep threat.

Williams averaged 24 points, 6.7 assists and 4.2 rebounds last season as a junior, making 78 3-pointers.

Six-foot-eight forward Deante Johnson is a fierce defender known for his athleticism and shot-blocking.

Both Williams and Johnson signed with the Vikings in November.

The Vikings also have four verbal commitments: Uros Plavsic, a 7-foot-1 center from Serbia;  Jaalam Hill, a 6-foot-7 junior college forward from Louisville, Ky.; Walker; and 6-foot-5 wing Setric Millner, Jr., of Grand Rapids, Mich..

Friday, February 2, 2018

Cleveland State upsets first-place Wright State 77-74

Cleveland State used hot-shooting and a few crucial defensive stops late to pull out a 77-74 upset over first-place Wright State Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

"That was a terrific win over a great Wright State team," said CSU head coach Dennis Felton said. "{It was} a great team win. A lot of great contributions from everyone that played."

The Vikings (6-18, 3-8 Horizon League) tied a school record with 14 made 3-pointers to snap its  three game losing skid.

"We made some shots," said Felton.

The loss drops Wright State (17-7, 9-2 HL) into a first-place tie with Northern Kentucky (9-2), which defeated YSU 95-85 Thursday.

CSU couldn't hold on to a 15 point lead in the second half, but were able to regroup and regain the lead.

The Raiders, which had won 10 of its previous 11, used a 27-8 run to take a 66-62 lead with six minutes to go.

“They held it together and kept enough composure and believed in themselves to fight back,” Felton said.

CSU would clamp down on defense, holding the Raiders to only one field goal the rest of the way.

"We just made up our minds to get tougher on defense," said Felton.

Back-to-back three pointers by Bobby Word gave the Vikings a 70-66 lead with three minutes to go.

The Raiders closed within one three times, but each time CSU responded with a big play.

First, Jamarcus Hairston came up with a big putback following a Tyree Appleby missed layup.

"Moc had two huge offensive rebounds," said Felton. "You need some plays like that in order to win games like this."

Then, Appleby came up with a big steal and made a pair of free throws to give CSU some breathing room,74-69, with 1:26 to go.

“I try not to get to overwhelmed out there, being a freshman,” Appleby said. “My teammates calm me down and tell me to play my game.”

CSU would seal the win making three of four free throws for its biggest win of the season.

Word led the Vikings with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting from three-point distance. Appleby added 17 points, four assists and two steals. Carpenter contributed 14 points, while Hairston added seven points and seven rebounds.

Loudon Love and Grant Benzinger led the Raiders with 20 points each.

CSU made three of its first five three-pointers and took an early 9-2 lead.

By the half, CSU had knocked down eight treys, the last one a Carpenter buzzer beater from beyond half-court that gave CSU a 39-30 lead at the break.

The Vikings shot 57.1 percent in the opening half, while WSU was held to just 10 field goals, or 35.7 percent.

CSU continued its hot shooting in the second half, knocking down 4 of its first 5 three-pointers to take its largest lead, 15 (54-39).

However, CSU would start to cool off. They made only 3 of its next 13 shots.

WSU made 12 of its first 22 shots in the second half to tie it at 60-60.

A Jaylon Hall jumper and a Parker Ernsthausen three-point play put the Raiders up 66-62.

The Vikings closed the game on a 15-8 run.

Shorthanded: Both teams played without key contributors. CSU was without Anthony Wright (concussion) and Evan Clayborne (coach's decision), who did not dress for the game.

The Raiders were without redshirt freshmen wing Everett Winchester (concussion).

Sunday, January 21, 2018

UIC uses fast second half start to topple Cleveland State

A fast start in the second half propelled Illinois-Chicago to a 87-80 victory Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.

Leading, 40-38 at the half, the Flames (10-11, 5-3 Horizon League) opened the second half on a 24-8 run to take control of the game and never looked back.

Jordan Blount led the Flames with 17 points and 11 rebounds. A product of Geneva's Spire Institute, Blount hit five of his eight baskets during the decisive run.

In the first nine minutes of the second half, UIC controlled the boards (14-7) and dominated in points in the paint (38-24) to build an 18 point lead.

CSU made only 5 of its first 18 shots in the second half.

Tyree Appleby led four Vikings (5-16, 2-6 HL) in double-figures with 19 points and seven assists. Jamarcus Hairston added 16, while Kash Thomas contributed 13 and Kenny Carpenter 10.

The Vikings made one last run and promptly cut a 22-point deficit down to five, but ran out of time.

Hairston was the catalyst of CSU's comeback, knocking down four of his five 3-point attempts and scoring 14 points in the second half.

A 12-0 run closed CSU within 79-71 with 1:48 to go.

Bobby Word's 3-pointer with nine seconds left got CSU within 85-80, but UIC sealed the victory with a pair of free throws from Tarkus Ferguson.

CSU held UIC without a field goal in the final 4:57.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Seth Millner commits to Cleveland State basketball: Vikings add 5th 2018 commit

First-year Cleveland State head coach Dennis Felton added a fifth recruit to his class of 2018 on Friday.

Wing Setric "Seth" Millner verbally committed to the Vikings, according to his Twitter account.

Millner, 6-foot-5, also had offers from Horizon League schools Detroit, Oakland and Northern Kentucky, among others, according to

The Grand Rapids, Mich. native is the nephew of former New York Knicks head coach Derek Fisher and the cousin of Ohio State signee Duane Washington, Jr..

He's the third recruit from Michigan, joining Rashad Williams and Deante "Spider" Johnson who signed with CSU in November.

The Vikings also have verbal commitments from 7-foot-1 center Uros Plavsic, of Serbia, and 6-foot-7 junior college forward Jaalam Hill, of Louisville, Ky.

CSU still has one scholarship to offer for the class of 2018.

The regular signing period is from April 11-May 16.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cleveland State blows 17-point lead but beats IUPUI, 70-67

The Cleveland State men's basketball team is still trying to figure out how to close games.

CSU blew 17 and 12-point leads, but were able to regroup and pulled out a 70-67 victory Thursday night at the Wolstein Center to snap its four game losing streak.

The Vikings (5-15, 2-5 Horizon League) led 61-49 with eight minutes to go, but made just two of its next 11 shots as IUPUI (7-12, 4-4 HL) used an 18-5 run to take a 67-66 lead on Jaylen Minnett's four-point play with 44 seconds to go.

A Jamarcus Hairston's tip-in put CSU up for good, 68-67.

CSU closed out the game getting a big defensive stop from Stefan Kenic who stripped Nick Rogers and came up with the loose ball.

Kenny Carpenter sinked a pair of free throws to seal the win.

It was CSU's eighth one possession game of the season, including fourth in conference play. They're 3-5 in those games.

Carpenter led the Vikings with 23 points, 19 of them came in the second half. The senior from Detroit was 8-of-12 shooting, including three treys.

Kenic added 14 points for the Vikings, while Clayborne contributed career-highs in points (10) and rebounds (seven) and threw down four dunks.

Aaron Brennan led the Jaguars with 17 points, while Evan Hall added 11.

CSU got off to a fast start, making its first 10 shots to take a 23-6 lead.

The Jaguars would switch to a 2-3 zone that stymied the Vikings.

CSU made only one of its final 11 shots as IUPUI closed within 32-26 at the half.

A Brennan 3-pointer tied the game at 36-36 and a three-point play by TJ Henderson gave the Jags its first lead of the game 44-43.

However, the Vikings started to solve the zone as they scored 13 straight points - including three treys (two from Carpenter and one from Highsmith) - to take back the lead, 59-47.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Appleby named Horizon League Freshman of the Week ... again

Cleveland State guard Tyree Appleby earned his third Horizon League Freshman of the Week award Monday.

The Arkansas native averaged 16.5 points, 7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals in two games last week.

Appleby began the week with 19 points and a career-high seven assists in a 85-84 loss at Detroit Mercy on Wednesday.

He closed out the week posting 14 points, 7 assists, three rebounds, and three steals in the Vikings' 81-68 loss at Oakland on Friday.

Appleby is the Horizon League's second leading scorer among freshmen. He's averaging 11.5 points and 3.7 assists per game.

His three Freshman of the Week awards ties Wright State's Loudon Love for most among freshmen this season.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Kenny Carpenter's huge block seals Cleveland State's comeback win over Green Bay

Cleveland State men's basketball coach Dennis Felton was in a much better mood following the Vikings' 80-79 victory over Green Bay Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

"The best part was that last defensive stand that saved the game," said Felton. "That's the kind of defensive tenacity and determination that we have been talking about. We have to build on that."

For the second consecutive game, CSU needed to make a defensive stop in the final seconds to pull out the win.

On Monday, Youngstown State's Cameron Morse won the game sinking a three-pointer over two CSU defenders with .6 seconds on the clock.

Following Monday's loss to YSU, Felton said the Vikings needed to be "tougher and more tenacious" on the defensive end.

But on Thursday night, senior guard Kenny Carpenter saved the game blocking Kameron Hankerson's three-point attempt with one second remaining.

"What we have been talking about the last few weeks is our physical toughness to make defensive stands and finish them out with rebounds," said Felton. "We are by no means where we want to be, but today's a step in the right direction."

The Vikings (4-11, 1-1 Horizon League) got a boast in the front court when Evan Clayborne returned after missing the last seven games with an sprained mcl in his knee.

"Evan had to be a lift to our players to have him back out there," said Felton.

Clayborne played only 10 minutes, but made an immediate impact, scoring four points (two dunks), one rebound and three blocked shots.

"He was a big impact for us. He's just a big force for us," Carpenter said about Clayborne's presence in the post. "When he went down it hurt us a great deal, especially rebounding."

Senior forward Derek Sloan (knee, foot) also dressed for the game, but did not play because of coaches' decision.

"Seeing him move (in practice), he wasn't moving as well as Evan," Felton said. "I think he will be back on the court really soon."

The Vikings also made a change to the starting lineup inserting Jamarcus Hairston instead of Stefan Kenic.

"He's been playing well and has been much better defensively," said Felton. We wanted to do everything we could to get off to a stronger start defensively and on the glass."

Unfortunately, the Vikings didn't get off to a fast start.

Green Bay (7-10, 2-2 HL) jumped out to an early 11-2 lead.

The Phoenix shot 55.2 percent in the first 20 minutes and led 41-36 at the half.

"All we talked about at halftime was they are on pace to (score) 82 points. We got to put our foot down and get stops." said Felton.

CSU was much better defensively in the second half. They held the Phoenix to 40 percent in the final 20 minutes and outrebounded them by one.

Green Bay led by as much as eight midway through the second half, but an 8-0 run by CSU capped off by back-to-back 3-pointers from Bobby Word and Kenic tied it at 60-60.

Tyree Appleby's layup gave CSU its first lead of the night, 66-65.

A Hankerson's 3-pointer tied the game at 76-76, but CSU would clamp down on defense holding Green Bay to one field goal over the last 2:03.

A pair of late layups from Carpenter put the Vikings up four, 80-76, with 51 seconds left. That's all they needed.

Carpenter led a balance CSU scoring attack with 20 points. Appleby and Word each contributed 14 points, while Kenic added 11 points off the bench.

Khalil Small led the Phoenix with a career-high 30 points, 18 of them came in the first half.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cleveland State loses a heartbreaker in league opener

One of the tough decisions a head coach has to make is whether to call a timeout and set up a final shot or just let them play on.

First-year Youngstown State coach Jerrod Calhoun found himself in that exact situation on Monday afternoon at the Wolstein Center and elected to not call a timeout.

The move paid off as YSU's Cameron Morse pulled up and made a three-point shot over two Cleveland State defenders with 0.6 on the clock to lift the Penguins to an 80-77 victory in its Horizon League opener.

"I was going to call a timeout, but I saw Cam on the run and he had momentum, so I think in those instances you let your player (play on)," said Calhoun, a former CSU basketball player.

CSU head coach Dennis Felton was not surprised that YSU didn't call a timeout.

"I think a timeout in those situations favors the defense," said Felton, whose squad dropped its fifth straight and seven of the last eight contests. "They didn't get a clean look. They got a contested look. We came up short to a great shot by a talented player."

Bobby Word led the Vikings (3-11, 0-1 Horizon League) with 24 points on 5-of-10 shooting from 3-point distance. Kenny Carpenter added 12 and Kash Thomas 11.

Garfield Heights' Braun Hartfield led the Penguins (3-11, 1-0 HL) with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including four treys. Lorain native Naz Bohannon contributed 10 points and nine rebounds for YSU, who snapped a seven game losing streak.

The Vikings fell behind 13-2 and had to play catch-up the rest of the way.

"It was a soft start that took a lot of effort to overcome," said Felton.

In the opening half, CSU struggled to defend the 3-point shot and the pick-and-roll.

YSU shot 62.1 percent in the opening half, including 6-of-10 on 3-pointers and took a 43-32 lead at the break.

With Derek Sloan (feet, knee) and Evan Clayborne (knee) still out for CSU, the Penguins took advantage inside, controlling the boards (21-10) in the first half and holding advantages in points in the paint (20-12) and second chance points (7-2).

"We basically don't have and inside game without Derek and Evan," said Felton.

Felton said he expects Sloan and Clayborne to return sometime this year, but does not have a timetable for their return.

Sloan has missed the past nine games with what Felton calls "chronic issues with his feet and knees."

Clayborne has missed the past seven games after spraining his mcl in his knee during CSU's loss to Kent State in early December.

CSU slowly trimmed the lead back. They closed to within three (47-44) and within one (54-53).

But the Penguins seemed to have the game back in control, using a 15-7 run to build to a 69-60 lead with five minutes to go.

The Vikings would make one last run as Felton switched to a five-guard line-up.

"We needed to get turnovers (to get back in the game)," said Felton.

CSU used a 17-8 run capped off by back-to-back three-pointers from Word that tied the game, 77-77, with 8.1 seconds to go.

That set up Morse's game-winning three-pointer.

"I was on the run,'' Morse said of his final shot. "I faked like I was going to drive, then pulled up and hit the three."

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cleveland State's rally falls just short at Kent State

KENT, Ohio -- Cleveland State men's basketball coach Dennis Felton wasn't too happy when his team headed to the locker room trailing Kent State by 11 at the break.

The Vikings trailed by as many as 19 in the first half, were outrebounded 16-4 on the offensive glass, outscored 17-2 in second chance points and 20-10 in the paint.

"Our team played too soft in the first half on both ends," said Felton. "In the locker room, the message was to go out in the second half and make this a long, tough night for Kent State. We did that."

When the Vikings returned to the court after intermission, they made a furious comeback closing within one point with 4:47 to go, but only to see the Golden Flashes end the game on a 17-8 run to pull out a 72-62 victory Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.

 Anthony Wright led the Vikings (2-5) in both points and rebounds, posting his first career double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Pennsylvania native was 8-of-11 shooting.

"Anthony was terrific," said Felton.

Kenny Carpenter had 14 points, all in the second half, while Tyree Appleby added 13 off the bench.

Kevin Zabo led the Golden Flashes (5-3) with 17 points. Adonis De La Rosa added 16 points and Jalen Avery finished with 15 points.

The game was tied at 8-8 at the first media timeout.

Over the next 12 minutes, KSU took control of the game, using a 23-9 run to take a 31-14 lead.

The Vikings ended the first half with a 10-2 run and closed within 35-24 at the break. Wright capped off the run with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Only four Vikings scored in the first half. Neither of them were CSU's top four scorers - Kenny Carpenter, Dontel Highsmith, Stefan Kenic and Bobby Word -  all went scoreless in the first 20 minutes.

Wright kept CSU in the game in the first half, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including three treys. No other Viking scored more then five points in the first half.

"We barely started to get control of the glass towards the end of the first half," said Felton. "In the second half, we controlled the glass. That's the only way we were going to have a chance to win."

CSU held an 18-13 edge on the boards in the second half, including 8-2 on the offensive glass.

Wright, Carpenter, and Appleby keyed CSU's second half rally. They scored all 30 points as CSU closed within 55-54.

But CSU couldn't get over the hump as they went the next 2:29 without scoring a point.

Scary moment: With 2:29 to go in the game, Evan Clayborne stayed down on the court with an apparent knee injury. Felton did not have an update on his condition after the game.

Next up: CSU continues its road swing as they travel to Western Michigan on Wednesday. The Broncos, the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference, are 4-4.