BY TOM MIESKOSKI
Before Saturday's postgame press conference, Demonte Flannigan asked the media how they were doing? Then a reporter asked Flannigan how he was doing?
"Not good," he said. "We should have won that game."
An 18-point deficit proved to be too much for Cleveland State to overcome Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center.
CSU got within three with eight seconds to go and had a chance to tie the game, but they couldn't get a shot off as Milwaukee held on to a 65-62 victory at the Wolstein Center in front of 1, 805 fans.
It was CSU's fourth straight loss, all have come in league play, and fifth defeat in the last six.
"I commend our guys for fighting back," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters, whose squad dropped to 5-12, 0-4 HL. "We just let them make too many threes."
Milwaukee (12-5, 3-1 HL) made 12 of 25 shot from long range, nine of them came in the first half as the Panthers built a 39-27 lead at the break.
"We didn't capitalize the last three plays before the half," said Waters. "If we had capitalized just before the half, I thought it would have given us a chance to go to halftime feeling better about ourselves."
CSU cut a 14 point deficit in the first half down to six, but then they turned the ball over on its next two possessions and Milwaukee closed the half on a 10-2 run to take a 12 point lead at the break.
The Vikings made only one field goal in the final 4:58 and that was a tip-in by Flannigan with 44 seconds left.
Milwaukee held a 14-0 edge in points off turnovers in the first 20 minutes, taking advantage of CSU's five turnovers.
The Panthers started the second half strong, making six of its first eight shots, including a pair of three-pointers, to take its largest lead of the game. 53-35.
"We told them at halftime, we need to run them off the line," said Waters. "I thought they did a better job of doing that (in the second half)."
CSU would regroup on defense and held Milwaukee to just 12 points in the final 14 minutes. After starting the game making 11 of its first 19 shots from three-point distance, Milwaukee made only one of its last six shots from long range.
An Andre Yates' jumper sparked a 25-10 run and saw CSU close within 63-60 with 36 seconds to go.
Milwaukee then struggled to inbound the ball and had to call back-to-back timeouts before they got a five seconds call.
Once the Panthers finally got the ball inbounce, CSU's Terrell Hales picked off a pass and had a clear break away lay-up that would have made it a one point game, but the referee ruled that Hales stepped out of bounce.
Waters disagreed with the call.
"I think he went out of bounce, but I think he reestablished himself and the ball never went out of bounce," said Waters. "That was inches away from being a whole different situation."
Waters said that play was not reviewable.
With 14 seconds to go, CSU got the break they were looking for as JayQuan McCloud missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and gave the Vikings one last chance to tie the game.
On CSU's final possession, Waters said they wanted Yates to dribble drive down the baseline and kick it out to Edwards who was coming off a double screen. But Milwaukee's Jordan Johnson disrupted the play by stripping Yates from behind and the ball rolled to McCloud to end the game.
In the second half, CSU shot 55.6 percent from the floor and held advantages in points in the paint (20-12), points off turnovers (8-0) and second chance points (4-0).
Yates led three Vikings in double-figures with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. CSU also had strong games from Rob Edwards (14 points), Flannigan (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Jibri Blount (nine points).
The Panthers were led by Austin Arians with 13 points, J.J. Panoske added 12 and Matt Tiby 11. Arians, Panoske and Tiby shot a combined 7 of 15 from long range.
"I told them in the locker room, not another team is coming in here and winning in our house," said Waters. "That's the goal now."
With the loss, CSU dropped to 3-5 at home this year, including 0-2 at the Q.
A year ago, CSU lost only one home game during conference play and that came during the regular season finale against Valparaiso. This year CSU has dropped its first two conference home games.
Viking debut: Walk-on guard Nelson Maxwell from Orange High School made his CSU debut on Saturday. He played in five minutes, all in the first half, and had a steal and two fouls.
"Nelson went in and worked hard today," said Waters. "We are going to need him because we lost two guards, Myles Hamilton (dismissed) and Daniel Levitt twisted his knee and is gone for the year."
Scary moment: With 11:18 to go in the second half, Yates "rolled his ankle" and collapsed to the ground in a lot of pain. He stayed in the game, but was noticeably hobbling around.
Final word: "It was a team rule issue and it wasn't working out," Waters said about Hamilton's dismissal from the team."So we had to move forward."
The Raiders (8-8, 2-1 HL) are ninth in the HL in scoring (64.9), but are third in three-point shooting percentage (.369). WSU are coming off a 60-46 victory at Northern Kentucky on Saturday and have won five of its six games at the Nutter Center.