Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cleveland State 62, Malone 46: Vikings gets first win of season in home opener

Flannigan has 22 points, 17 rebounds in CSU win

By Tom Mieskoski

The Cleveland State men's basketball team earned its first victory of the season on Tuesday night, defeating Malone, 62-46, at the Wolstein Center.

The game was much closer then the final score would indicate.

It took CSU (1-1) nearly 24 minutes to find its offense.

Trailing, 29-24 with 16:44 to go, CSU turned to its defense to create some offense.

Coming out of the timeout, the Vikings went on a 19-1 run to take a 43-30 advantage and never looked back.
Defense keyed the decisive run, as CSU held Malone (2-1) without a field goal for nearly six minutes, causing the Pioneers to turn it over four times.

"We wanted to put more pressure on them [in the second half]. Keep the pressure on harder and harder," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said. "I think in the first 10 minutes, I think we turned them over nine times. I think that got us back in the game."

CSU also found its offensive stroke from long range. Junior Andre Yates, senior Vinny Zollo, sophomore Terrell Hales and freshmen Jeron Rogers each drained a three-pointer during that six minute stretch that allowed CSU take control of the game. 

They would extend the lead by as many as 18 in the second half

After shooting 37 percent in the opening half, CSU shot 48.4 percent (15-of-31) in the final 20 minutes.

CSU's defense played superb, holding Malone to 31.5 percent and 3-of-18 on three-pointers. Malone only made eight field goals in the second half, including 0-of-8 from long range.

"I thought we played hard in the second half," Waters said.

Demonte Flannigan played the best game of his career, posting career-highs in points (22) and rebounds (17), for his first collegiate double-double.

"That was not Anton-like, that was Demonte-like," said Waters. "I thought he did a good job scoring [inside]."

Flannigan showcased a variety of low post moves, scoring on hook shots and turnaround jumpers. He made nine of his 12 shots.

Zollo scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, while Yates added 10.

"At halftime, I told Vinny, for us to have any chance this year, you have to bring it and hit some shots," said Waters. "In the second half, he went out and did a better job."

Malone was led by Mitchell Spotleson and Nate Sheppard, who each contributed 11 points.

CSU took an early 11-4 lead, then the offense stalled.

The Pioneers scored seven straight points to tie the game at 11-11, then a minute later, they took its first lead 14-13 on a three-pointer from Spotleson.

Malone lead by as many as five in the first half, but back to back baskets from Flannigan closed CSU within 23-22 at the intermission.

Flannigan was the lone bright spot for the Vikings in the first half. The Villa Angela-St. Joseph product kept the Vikings in the game in the opening half, scoring 14 of CSU's 22 points.

He shot 6-of-8 from the floor in the first half, while the rest of the team shot just 4-of-19.

No other Viking player had more then two points in the first 20 minutes.

Next up: The Vikings should get a tougher challenge on Saturday as they travel to Rhode Island for the opening game of the Cancun Challenge.

The Rams, who were picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, are coming off a heart-breaking 58-55 loss to Valparaiso on Tuesday.

"They are going to be a tough foe," said Waters. "It's going to be a tough game at Rhode Island. I think our guys will compete."

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