Friday, January 8, 2016

Green Bay 87, Cleveland State 67: Vikings squander 15-2 lead, fall to Phoenix

Season-high 23 turnovers cost Vikings

BY TOM MIESKOSKI

Cleveland State couldn't hold on to an early 13 point lead as the Vikings turned it over a season-high 23 times in a 87-67 victory Thursday night at the Wolstein Center in front of 1, 471 fans.

"That was the game." Vikings head coach Gary Waters said about the 28 points Green Bay scored off of 23 CSU turnovers. "You can't beat anybody like that. That's called you need a point guard."

It was CSU's third straight loss, all have come in conference play, and fourth defeat in the last five.

CSU (5-11, 0-3 Horizon League) turned it over only one time in the first five minutes and took an early 15-2 lead.

The next 15 minutes were a completely different story.

They turned it over 14 times in the final 15 minutes of the first half, as Green Bay outscored CSU 39-15 and took a 41-30 lead at the break and never looked back.

"After the first five minutes, we stunk today," said Waters. "We gave up too much easy stuff."

Through its first three conference games, CSU's defense have been shredded by the Horizon League's top three scoring teams, giving up 86, 88 and 87 points. The Vikings only allowed one team to score 80 points in their first 12 nonconference games.

"(Our defense) it's horrendous right now," Waters said about his defense that is giving up 87 points per game in conference play.  "We will get this fixed before the season ends, One of the biggest issues that we are having is we are turning the ball over and they are getting out in transition and we can't play (halfcourt) defense."

Andre Yates led the Vikings with 16 points, 10 of them came in the first half.  Vinny Zollo (13 points), Tim Hasbargen (11) and Demonte Flannigan (10) were the other Vikings in double-figures.

The Phoenix (10-5, 3-0 HL) made a season-high 11 three-pointers. Turner Botz led the way with four three-pointers and finished with a career-high 20 points. Carrington Love made three treys, two of them banked off the glass, while Jordan Fouse knocked down two.

"We didn't plan for him," Waters said about Botz who was 7 of 12 shooting from the field. "When a player gets going, he gets going."

For most of the game, CSU held Love, the HL's second leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, in check. Love finished with 16 points on 5 of 11 shooting.

By the half, Love had only three points and was limited to nine points at the under eight media timeout.

Fouse added 14 points for the Phoenix who have won 10 of its last 12, while Jamar Hurdle had 11.

Green Bay had 20 assists on 30 field goals and held a 39-21 advantage in bench points.

CSU held advantages in points in the paint (38-22) and rebounding (34-28), including an 11-6 edge on the offensive glass.

Green Bay took an early 2-1 lead, but the Vikings ran of 14 straight points and took its largest lead of the game, 15-2, but then the turnovers happened.

They turned it over six times in the next five minutes as Green Bay slowly started to chip away at the lead.

The Phoenix started to heat up from from three-point distance.

Botz's first three-pointer cut the deficit to 15-8. His second three closed Green Bay to 19-16 and his third long ball made it a one-point game, 24-23.

Fouse's only three-pointer of the first half tied the game at 26-26 and Anthony Brown's only three of the game gave Green Bay the lead, 29-28, which they never relinquished.

The Phoenix closed the half on a 12-2 run and took a 11-point lead at the half. The Vikings only scored two points in the final 6:28.

Despite, shooting 51.9 percent in the second half, CSU never got closer then seven points as Green Bay kept the Vikings at bay by shooting 61.5 percent in the final 20 minutes, including making 6 of 10 from long range.

Hamilton benched: Myles Hamilton might have played his last game at CSU?

Midway through the first half, Hamilton was pulled from the game after turning the ball over and committing a foul on the other end.

Hamilton was upset that he was pulled from the game after playing only a minute and got into a heated conversation with Waters on the sidelines. Waters then kicked Hamilton off the bench and he spent the rest of the first half in the locker room.

The Kennessaw State transfer and St. Edward product returned to the bench for the second half, but didn't play in the final 20 minutes.

After the game, Waters didn't want to talk about what was said during that heated conversation, but he had this say about the incident:

"That's a lot of stuff. You may not see that boy out there ever again," he said. "We got to have a discipline ship. I don't know (if he will return), I need to sit and think about it. Right now I don't feel good about it."

Hamilton also served a three-game suspension at the start of the season for a violation of team rules.

This all happened when CSU was leading 17-10 with 10:53 to go in the first half.

Levitt update: Waters said that Daniel Levitt, who injured his knee in the final minute of CSU's 86-68 loss at Oakland on Saturday, "could be gone for the year."

"They say it was an ACL and MCL tear," he said. "(They) haven't done an MRI yet. That was just the first diagnosis."

Levitt, a walk-on guard from Montreal, is averaging 4.5 points in 13.8 minutes off the bench. The three-point specialist is tied for second on the team in three-pointers made (16) and is shooting 34.8 percent from long range. 

Next up: CSU continues its two game homestand on Saturday when Milwaukee visits the Wolstein Center.

The Panthers (11-5, 2-1 HL) are the fourth highest-scoring team in the HL, averaging 79.8 points per game. They are coming off a 81-65 win at Youngstown State on Thursday.

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