Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cleveland State men will open HL basketball tournament vs. Green Bay

The Cleveland State men's basketball team will enter this week's Motor City Madness tournament in Detroit, as the No. 9 seed and will face No. 4 Green Bay in the first round.

The Vikings, who dropped three of their last four, finished the regular season at 9-22 overall and 4-14 in the HL, will face the Phoenix (19-12, 11-7 HL) at noon Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.

The tournament field was set following the conclusion of Sunday's contest between UIC and Milwaukee.

Green Bay, winners of four of its last five, are coming off a heart-breaking 70-68 home loss to Valparaiso on Sunday afternoon, falling in the final seconds on a 3-pointer from Shane Hammink.

The Phoenix swept their two conference games with CSU, including a 17-point victory Monday in Green Bay.

Wright State 55, Cleveland State 51: Vikings Rally Falls Short

A 15-point deficit proved to be too much for Cleveland State to overcome as it lost to Wright State, 55-51, on Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.

CSU (9-22, 4-14 Horizon League) closed to within two with 16 seconds left, but WSU's Mark Alstork calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to close out the game.

The loss ends CSU's bid for the No. 8 seed in next week's Horizon League tournament. Depending on the outcome of Sunday's UIC-Milwaukee game, CSU will open the HL tournament as either the No. 9 or No. 10 seed.

To receive the No. 9 seed, CSU would need Milwaukee to defeat UIC. If that happens, the Vikings would face Green Bay Saturday at noon.

A UIC win over the Panthers, would give the Flames the No. 9 seed, while the Vikings would open the tournament as the No. 10 seed and face WSU (19-12, 13-5 HL) again Saturday at 4 p.m..

The Vikings struggled to hit shots all game, shooting just 30.4 percent from the field and 7 of 19 from behind the 3-point line.

CSU trailed by as many as 15 with six minutes to go.

A 13-3 run got CSU back into the game. Kenny Carpenter's three-pointer closed the Vikings within 52-47.

Then the Vikings would catch a break as WSU split a pair at the free throw line.

On CSU's next possession, Carpenter had a three-pointer that rattled in-and-out that would have cut the lead down to a one possession game.

"If Kenny's three goes down, you're looking at a whole different game," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters.

CSU would catch another break as WSU's Biggie Minnis (11 points) split a pair at the free throw line.

With 16 seconds left, a four-point play from Rob Edwards closed the Vikings within 53-51, but that was as close as CSU would get.

Alstork drained two free throws for the final score.

CSU's defense held WSU to only three points in the final 2:55, all came from the free throw line. The Raiders made only one of its last five field goals.

The Vikings played again without its second leading scorer Demonte Flannigan who missed his second straight game with a concussion.

"I got to give our kids credit because they never quit. They kept going at it. They kept going at it and they kept going at it," Waters said. "Our biggest problem today was we were without our (second) leading scorer and rebounder. You put him in the game and add his 14 points and we win this game by 10."

Without Flannigan, WSU took advantage of the undersized Vikings inside.

Senior center Michael Karena had his way down low, scoring 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first half as WSU built a 28-22 advantage at the half.

Three times CSU would close to within four early in the second half, but WSU started to take control of the game with a 14-3 run that took a 35-31 lead and pushed it out to a 49-34 advantage.

Cold shooting and turnovers plagued CSU again. During that decisive 14-3 run, CSU turned it over four times and missed five straight shots over a six minute stretch.

"We had 18 turnovers that cost us the game," said Waters. "Every game that we lost we have averaged 17 turnovers a game. Every game that we have won we have averaged eight or nine turnovers a game."

Edwards led the Vikings with 20 points, Carpenter added 13 and Andre Yates nine.

CSU's bench was outscored by a whopping 23-0.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cleveland State 63, NKU 58: ‘A Total Team Effort’ Lifts Vikings Past Northern Kentucky

With a 63-58 victory over Northern Kentucky Thursday night at the Wolstein Center, Cleveland State moved out of the cellar in the Horizon League and still have a chance to move up to the No. 8 seed in next week's conference tournament.

A CSU (9-21, 4-13 HL) win against Wright State on Saturday and a NKU loss to Youngstown State, also on Saturday, would give the Vikings the No. 8 seed.

If CSU loses Saturday, they could finish with either the No. 9 or No. 10 seed, depending on the outcome of UIC's final two games. The Flames own the tie-breaker over the Vikings because of a win over WSU.

CSU owns the tie-breaker over NKU (8-20, 5-12 HL) because of a season sweep.

The Vikings played without second-leading scorer Demonte Flannigan who suffered a concussion in practice yesterday and was still in the NCAA's concussion protocol. His status for Saturday's game against WSU remains questionable.

"It was a total team effort," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters. "I told them we had three keys to this game; we had to take care of the basketball, we had to limit our fouls and we had to hold them under 60 points. And we did all three."

With Flannigan out, CSU used a balance scoring attack with four Vikings scoring at least eight points.

"(I told them in the locker room) in order to win this game we need a couple of guys that come outside themselves," Waters said. "I told Vinny (Zollo) your goal is to double-your scoring average. I told Rob (Edwards) he had to score more points for us. And Kenny (Carpenter), I told him he had to double what he averages and they did that."

Edwards and Carpenter combined to score 34 points. Andre Yates contributed nine points and five assists with only one turnover. Zollo added eight points and five rebounds.

"We knew if we won the guard battle, we would win the game," Waters said.

Carpenter, who got the start over Terrell Hales, scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half and helped CSU build a 31-24 lead at the half. He played only four minutes in the second half as Waters benched him because of his defense.

The Vikings clamped down on defense in the first half, holding the Norse to just seven field goals in the first 20 minutes.

Edwards carried the offense in the second half as 12 of his 19 points came in the final 20 minutes. His final two points of the game - a pair of free throws - gave CSU the lead for good, 58-51.

But it was back-up center Aaron Scales who made what Waters called "the play of the game."

Scales didn't score a point in the game, but came up with three big offensive rebounds. His last offensive rebound was the one Waters called "the play of the game."

With CSU up one with 1:06 to go, Scales hustled to track down a rebound in the corner, giving the Vikings a second chance - and most importantly - an opportunity to run more clock.

CSU cashed in on the second opportunity as a lay-up by Yates, put the Vikings up 60-57.

The Vikings closed out the game making its free throws to snap its three game losing streak.

Freshmen forward Drew McDonald led the Norse with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Jalen Billups added 17, while senior guard Tyler White contributed 11.

Blount returns: Freshmen forward Jibri Blount returned after missing the previous three games with a high-ankle sprain.

Blount came off the bench and contributed eight points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Green Bay 78, Cleveland State 61.

For just the second time this season, the Cleveland State men's basketball team was unable to hold on to a lead at the half.

The Vikings couldn't hold on to a 38-36 lead at the half as they shot 24.1 percent in the final 20 minutes in a 78-61 loss to Green Bay Monday night at the Resch Center.

CSU (8-21, 3-13 Horizon League) fell to 6-2 when leading at the half.

Senior forward Vinny Zollo returned from a three game suspension for a violation of team rules and led four Vikings in double-figures with 13 points, all of them came in the first half. Zollo was 5-of-11 from the floor and made three three-pointers.

Kenny Carpenter, Rob Edwards and Andre Yates each added 10 points a piece for the Vikings who dropped its fourth straight.

Carrington Love and Charles Cooper scored 15 points a piece to pace four Phoenix (18-11, 10-6 HL) in double figures. The others were Jamar Hurdle (14) and Jordan Fouse (12).

Green Bay shot 50.9 percent from the field. The Phoenix held a huge edge at the free throw line where they made 16-of-29, while CSU was 11-of-13.

Five minutes into the game, the Vikings fell behind 16-6.

But the next five-plus minutes belonged to CSU. They responded with a 15-4 run to take a 21-20 lead.

CSU pushed the lead out to as much as nine in the first half, but a 12-5 run to close out the half got Green Bay within two at the break.

The Vikings shot 53.6 percent from the floor in the opening half, including 5-of-7 from three-point distance.

Zollo (13), Carpenter (10) and Edwards (8) combined for 31 of CSU's 38 points in the first half. The trio shot a combined 12-of-20 from the floor in the first 20 minutes, including all five of CSU's three-pointers.

But the second half was a different story as the trio struggled, shooting a combined 0-of-10 from the field, for two points -  a pair of free throws from Edwards with 4:31 to go when the Vikings were down 17.

The Vikings made its first shot to start the second half, but missed nine of its next 10 as Green Bay started to pull away with a 19-4 run to take a 55-42 lead with 11:58 left to play.

They never got closer then nine the rest of the game as the Phoenix pushed the lead out to as much as 22.

CSU made only seven field goals in the final 20 minutes and were 1-of-13 from three-point distance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Valparaiso 66, Cleveland State 43: Shorthanded Vikings no match for Crusaders

Playing without forwards Jibri Blount (high ankle sprain) and Vinny Zollo (suspension) and guard Daniel Levitt (knee) still not ready to return, Cleveland State was overwhelmed by the defending Horizon League Champions Valparaiso Crusaders.

CSU was held to a season-low point total in a 66-43 loss to Valpo Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

"This is the last year, you're going to see junk like this," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said. "This was not good offense. This was bad offense. We could not score."

CSU's (8-19, 3-11 Horizon League) previous low for points scored in a game this year was 45 against Rhode Island in the third game of the season. The Vikings also were held to a season-low for field goals made (14) and were limited to seven field goals in each half. They also turned it over 17 times.

During one stretch in the first half, CSU missed 13 straight shots, including six layups.

Rob Edwards was the only Viking in double-figures with 11 points, but was limited to just seven shots from the field.

"I told some of the guys in the (locker) room, when much is given, much is required," Waters said. "And some players didn't play to their capabilities. This team isn't good enough when your best players can't score."

Waters singled out junior forward Demonte Flannigan for a lackluster performance.

Coming off a career-high 30-point performance Sunday against YSU, Flannigan struggled against the Crusaders, having as many points (six) as turnovers (six).

Flannigan was held to 3 of 10 shooting and even struggled at the free throw line, missing all three attempts from the charity stripe.

"I was disappointed in the performance that Demonte had. It's not the points, it's how he didn't attack them like he attacked YSU," Waters said. "He let (Vashil) Fernandez) take him out of the game. He just shot jump shots and that's what they want him to do."

Valpo (22-5, 12-2 HL) shot 46 percent and used its superior size to its advantage. The Crusaders outrebounded the Vikings by 10 and held a 21-10 edge in second chance points. They also had a 38-14 advantage in points in the paint.

The Crusaders massive frontcourt of 6-foot-9 forward Alec Peters and Fernandez, a 6-foot-10 shot-blocking center, overwhelmed the undersized and undermanned Vikings.

Peters finished with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ten of Peters' points came in the first half as he helped Valpo take a 29-17 advantage at the half.

A first-team all-Horizon League selection last year, Peters did most of his damage inside as four of his six field goals came in the paint.

Fernandez made his presence felt on the defensive end with six blocked shots and altered several others. He also contributed four points and two rebounds in 27 minutes.

"He makes the difference for them. If you take him out of the game they wouldn't be in first place right now," Waters said about Fernandez. "Because he's their anchor that holds down the middle."

Valpo used a balance scoring attack with four players scoring at least nine points.

Joining Peters in double-figures were Tevonn Walker with 13 points, while David Skara and Jubril Adekoya each added nine points a piece.

The Vikings dug a hole for themselves by missing eight layups in the first half.

Using its size to its advantage, Valpo exploited CSU inside in the first half as seven of their 12 field goals came in the paint. The Crusaders held a 16-8 edge in points in the paint in the first 20 minutes.

A strong defensive effort kept CSU in the game for most of the first half. The Vikings took four charges in the opening half  and were only down seven with seven minutes to go in the half.

But the Crusaders closed out the half with a 13-8 run to take a 12-point lead at the break.

"I thought if we had made a couple of lay-ups and made our free throws we would have been down four to six points heading into the half," said Waters. "I thought that would have been a great for our team and would have given us a big lift for the second half."

CSU shot just 25 percent (7-of-28) in the opening half, while Valpo shot 37.5 percent (12 of 32).

Both teams made two three-pointers in the first 20 minutes and turned it over seven times. Valpo was 3 of 4 from the free throw line, while CSU was 1 of 5.

In the second half, Valpo kept attacking the rim and shot 55.6 percent in the final 20 minutes as eight of their 15 field goals came in the paint.

CSU was not much better shooting in the second half. The Vikings were held to 7 of 21 shooting (33.3 percent) in the final 20 minutes as Valpo pushed the lead out to as much as 28.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cleveland State Suspends Vinny Zollo For Violation of Team Rules

Senior forward Vinny Zollo has been suspended for the next three games due to a ‘violation of team rules,’ Cleveland State announced this afternoon.

CSU released the following statement:

"Cleveland State forward Vinny Zollo will miss the Vikings' next three games due to a violation of team rules."

Zollo's suspension begins tonight when the Vikings travel to Youngstown State.

A senior from Greenfield, Ohio, Zollo has averaged 6.7 points and 5.5 rebounds this season.

He started the first 21 games for the Vikings, but lost his starting spot to freshmen Jibri Blount and has been coming off the bench in the last four games.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Oakland 67, Cleveland State 57: Golden Grizzlies have too much firepower in win over Vikings

Too much firepower from Oakland led to a fifth straight loss for Cleveland State, 67-57, Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center as the Vikings continue to search for offense.

Two days ago, CSU head coach Gary Waters said if they can consistently have four guys in double-figures they would have a good chance of winning the game.

Unfortunately for CSU, it was the Golden Grizzlies (17-8, 9-3 Horizon League) who had four players in double-figures, while the Vikings (7-18, 2-10 HL) only had two.

"I thought our team really wanted to win today," Waters said. "We didn't shoot well and that hurt us. You can't shoot 41 percent and expect to win, especially to a team of this magnitude.

"I told our kids in the locker room you played a good game, but you had some breakdowns that cost you throughout the game. We don't have a lot of room for error. I did end (our talk) by saying this to them, if you play this way the remainder of the year, you will be in every game you play. Now you got to get over the hump."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Detroit 71, Cleveland State 63: Zone defense stymies Vikings again

Flannigan scores career-high 25 points

By Tom Mieskoski

Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters is never afraid to tell it like it is.

Following CSU's 71-63 loss to Detroit on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center, Waters said he plans to "clean the house" after this season and bring in some more shooters.

"When you see our team a year from now, you're going to see about five other guys who can hit threes," he said after the game.  "I already told them (in the locker room) we are cleaning this house. (Right now), we have about 1 1/2 shooters."

The Vikings (7-17, 2-9 Horizon League) tied season-lows in three-point field goals made (3) and three-point percentage (15 percent) in the loss to the Titans (11-11, 5-6 HL).

Chris Jenkins made six of Detroit's 10 three-pointers and finished with a game-high 20 points.

"We let Jenkins get away. That's on us," said Waters. "I'm a believer if you allow a team to hit (10) threes you have a great chance of losing. Think about the Cavaliers, when they beat teams, they hit their threes. If they don't hit their threes, they have a chance to lose. That's why the three has become a viable weapon today."

It was only two years ago, that CSU finished second in the nation in three-point percentage (.409) during the 2013-14 season.

But recent transfers of Bryn Forbes and Trey Lewis have left CSU thin on shooters.

Entering Thursday game against Detroit, CSU was ninth in the HL in three-point percentage (.323), trailing only UIC (.304).

With freshmen walk-on Daniel Levitt still out with a knee injury, CSU is down to only one consistent shooter in Rob Edward.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, Edwards struggled against the Titans and missed all six of his attempts from long range. He finished with seven points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field.

It was a tail of two different shooting halves for the Vikings.

CSU got off to a slow start, making only one of its first nine shots from the field. But the Vikings finished the half strong, making 14 of its last 23 shots and trailed 33-31 at the break.

The Vikings also started the second half strong, making two of its first five shots, but then Detroit switched to a 2-3 zone and their shooting woes started.

They made only one of its next seven shots, while Detroit started to pull away.

With the game deadlocked at 36-36, a 15-2 run over the next five minutes, capped off by back-to-back three-pointers from Jenkins, gave the Titans a 51-38 lead and they never looked back.

"They knew they couldn't guard us inside, so they stayed in the (2-3) zone and dared us to shoot it," said Waters. "They usually don't run a 2-3 zone. That tells you they knew how bad we were (at shooting from the perimeter). They usually run a 3-2 zone. When you run a 3-2 there is only two guys on the baseline, then you can get it in (down low). But with three on the baseline, they (wanted) our guards to shoot it."

Waters' young squad struggled to attack the zone and kept settling for outside shots in the second half.

Almost half of CSU's shot attempts in the second half, came from beyond the three-point line, where they were 3-of-13 shooting.

"This team was beatable today," said Waters. "We just couldn't hit any shots. Think about it. They played man-to-man in the first half and we shot 47 percent. They played zone all the second half and we shot 37 percent. That's the difference in the game."

Demonte Flannigan had his best game as a Viking, scoring 19 of his career-high 25 points in the first half.

"He (Flannigan) came in to my office yesterday and before the game and said, "I'm going to be a beast today." said Waters. "They couldn't stop him in there. You can't beat a team with just one guy. I told them (in the locker room) if we had four people in double-figures we will be in every game to win."

Flannigan, a Villa Angela-St. Joseph product, had his way against Detroit's man-to-man defense in the first half, shooting 9-of-12 from the field. But in the second half, Detroit's 2-3 zone limited Flannigan to just three shots in the final 20 minutes.

Vinny Zollo was the only other Viking in double-figures, finishing with a career-high 16 points. He made two of CSU's three 3-pointers and finished 6-of-9 from the floor.

Detroit posted four players in double-figures. Carlton Brundidge added 12 points for the Titans, while Jaleel Hogan and Gerald Blackshear had 10 points a piece.

"It comes down to can we hit some shots and that's what we can't do," said Waters. "Until we do a better job of (shooting), it's going to be hard for us to win games. Some days we hit shots, some days we don't."

In remembrance: The Titans wore a large decal with the letters "TR" on their jerseys in honor of Reggie Hall, a sports producer for WXYZ in Detroit who died in a car crash in December.

Hall, who was known as "Titan Reggie," played baseball at UD and was a huge Titans fan.

Yates returns: Andre Yates returned after missing the previous two games with high ankle sprain and plantar faciatis.

Yates, who came off bench, had four points in 26 minutes. He started the second half in place of Terrell Hales.

"He is still struggling (with the injuries) a little bit," said Waters.

Buddha sighting:  Yates wasn't the only change Waters made at the half. Freshmen forward Jeron "Buddha" Rogers started the second half in place of Jibri Blount.

"We didn't have anyone to guard Paris Bass," said Waters. "That's why he started (the second half).

Next up: CSU host the Oakland Grizzlies men and women's basketball teams in a double-header on Saturday. The CSU men tip-off at 1 p.m., followed by the women's game.

Prior to the men's game, former CSU standout Norris Cole will be honored by having his jersey number, 30, retired.

Then at half-time, Kailey Klein will be honored by having her jersey number, 23, retired.