With three players out with injuries, Cleveland State’s men’s basketball team still managed to hold off Canisius 67-64 on Tuesday in their home regular-season opener at Wolstein Center.
CSU (1-1) used a balance scoring attack with five players in double-figures.
"It's back to back games that we had four or five guys in double-figures. That means we are all contributing," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said.
Rob Edwards led the Vikings with 17 points, while Bobby Word added 14 points and seven rebounds and Derek Sloan, Jibri Blount and Kash Thomas each contributed 10 points.
Jermaine Crumpton led Canisius (0-2) with 21 points, including 3-of-6 three-point shooting.
The Vikings shot 51 percent in the second half to erase an eight-point deficit.
"What won this game down the stretch was our defense," said Waters.
CSU's aggressive man-to-man defense held the Golden Griffins to 41 percent in the second half and outrebounded them 17-10 in the final 20 minutes.
"That was the key," Waters said about CSU's advantage on the boards. "That's all we worked on in practice yesterday was rebounding. I drilled them real hard at halftime [about rebounding]."
The Vikings were playing without Demonte Flannigan, Terrell Hales and Gavin Peppers.
Flannigan, CSU's starting center, collapsed on the court during CSU's shootaround before Saturday's game against Kent State in Youngstown and was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
"It was a traumatic thing. Everyone thought he had a heart attack," Waters said. "[The doctors] are still testing his heart and testing for asthma."
Hales, CSU's best defender, missed his third straight game with "a high hamstring pull." His status still remains day-to-day.
Peppers won the starting point guard competition during the preseason, but suffered a Achilles injury in practice, a couple days before CSU's exhibition game, and remains out indefinitely. He still has to undergo an MRI and X-rays.
Thomas started in Pepper’s place and had his second straight solid outing with seven assists and six rebounds to go along with 10 points.
"He showed me somethings," Waters said about his 20 year old freshmen point guard.
Kassius Robertson hit his fourth three-pointer in four attempts to give Canisius a 39-31 lead with 19:42 left
The Vikings used an 8-1 run to tie the game at 40-40.
Thomas' second three-point of the half gave CSU the lead for good 56-53. CSU would push the lead out to as much as four.
Crumpton's third three-pointer of the game closed Canisius within 65-64 with 1:48 to go.
The Vikings would close out the game with a tip-in from Word with 15 seconds left to give CSU some breathing room and big defensive stop.