Friday, December 30, 2016

Cleveland State can’t hold lead in heartbreaking overtime loss to Green Bay in Horizon opener

Cleveland State found themselves in an unfamiliar situation on Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings had a 13 point lead against the reigning Horizon League tournament champs, but couldn't hold onto it.

Green Bay, who made just 23-of-41 shots from the free throw line, made 7-of-10 at the charity stripe in overtime and escaped with a 76-75 victory.

"This was a game we shouldn't have let get away," Vikings head coach Gary Waters said. "We had a lot of situations [to pull out the game], but we made too many errors down the stretch."

CSU (4-9, 0-1 Horizon League) had a chance to close out the game in regulation, but couldn't execute down the stretch.

With 37.4 seconds left, the Vikings held a two-point lead and had the ball coming out of a timeout, but they couldn't get the ball inbounds.

"All we had to do is throw the ball in and we win the game because they had to foul us," Waters said. "That was the worst play I've seen us make in a long time."

Green Bay stole the inbounce pass and Khalil Small's layup tied the game at 67-67.

The Phoenix (7-6, 1-0 Horizon League) also had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Tevin Findlay missed a pair of free throws in the final seconds.

The Vikings also missed on several opportunities in overtime.

On back-to-back possessions, CSU missed three point blank layups.

"Not so much a young team. It's a team that don't know how to win in the last minute yet," Waters said. "Is this a learning experience? - yes - but we got to gain from this or we lost everything we put in."

Kerem Kanter, the younger brother of the Oklahoma City Thunder's Enes Kanter, scored on a lay-up to give the Phoenix a 71-67 lead with 2:25 left in overtime. It was Green Bay's only field goal of the overtime session.

The Vikings fought back and tied the game at 75-75 on Rob Edwards' three-pointer with 16 seconds left.

"That was a big time three," Waters said.

With five seconds left, Trevor Anderson split a pair of free throws to give Green Bay the win.

The Vikings had one last chance to pull out the win, but couldn't get a shot off.

Edwards drove down the lane, but kicked the pass out to Tim Hasbargen, who couldn't get his three-pointer off in time.

"I should of pulled up," Edwards said on the final shot attempt. "I saw a guy ready to take a charge and had no other options."

Edwards led CSU with a game-high 22 points, 17 of them came in the second half and overtime. Bobby Word added 18 for the Vikings, who lost its first home game of the season.

Word was 4-of-5 from three-point range.

Charles Cooper led the Phoenix with 19 points, while Turner Botz added  12 and Kanter contributed 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.

"The one that really hurt us was Cooper," said Waters. "He came in and kept driving the ball. We never had an answer for him."

The Vikings turned it over 20 times and gave up 22 offensive rebounds.

"That was the game," Waters said about the differences in turnovers and offensive rebounds.

Word added: "I don't think we seen any pressure like that this year."

CSU will look to rebound Saturday when Milwaukee visits the Wolstein Center.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Despite 79-62 win, Cleveland State’s Gary Waters wants to see more consistency from Big Three

With the start of the Horizon League season only 10 days away, Gary Waters is still looking for more consistency from its "big three."

The big three of Rob Edwards, Demonte Flannigan and Bobby Word combined for just 44 points in Cleveland State's 79-62 victory over Lake Erie College on Monday night at the Wolstein Center.

"If all three are scoring, it's pretty hard to beat us," Waters said. "If two of them are scoring, we have a chance [to win]. If only one of them is scoring it's hard for us to win games."

On Monday, only Edwards showed up.

The sophomore guard from Detroit had his best game since injuring his right hand in a loss to Kentucky on Nov. 23. Edwards scored a game-high 25 points, which included four three-pointers.

"My hand is feeling much better. It's like brand new," Edwards said.

Edwards still isn't 100 percent. He missed a couple of bunnies, including a breakaway dunk that he normally would make.

"That will never happen again," Edwards said about the miss dunk.

Flannigan played well in the first half, but disappeared in the second half due to foul trouble.

The Villa Angela-St. Joseph product scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half as he helped the Vikings built a 39-28 lead at the intermission

Flannigan played only 11 minutes in the second half and attempted only one shot after the intermission.

Word's shooting struggles continued again on Monday. The Oral Roberts transfer shot 1-for-8 from the field, for seven points.

"The one that has been really struggling the last few games is Bobby," said Waters. "We need Bobby [to be more consistent] to have the success we are trying to have."

The other issue that CSU has been dealing with during the nonconference season are long scoring droughts. They reappeared again against LEC as the Vikings had two long scoring droughts that led the Storm to get back into the game.

The first one came just before the half.

With 6:51 left in the first half, the Vikings were holding on to a 16-point lead, but scored only seven points the rest of the half. LEC closed to within nine, but Flannigan's layup with three seconds left, gave CSU a 11-point lead at the half.

"What has been consistent with those [scoring] droughts are turnovers," said Waters. "We turned it over five times in 10 possessions."

To start the second half, CSU had a stretch were they went scoreless for nearly three minutes as LEC closed to within six.

"When we get these droughts, we shouldn't be shooting. We should be driving the ball to the basket," said Waters. "We did a better job of taking the ball to the basket [in the second half.]"

The Vikings put the game away with a 24-11 run over the next 10 minutes that saw CSU extended the lead to 71-52 with 3:12 to go.

"When we finally settled down, I thought our defense became better," Waters said.

Jibri Blount scored 11 points off the bench for the Vikings (4-7) who are 4-0 at home for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Mitch Loomis led four Storm (1-12) in double-figures with 12 points. Brogan Scott added 11 for LEC, while Nick Wells and Gabe Kynard each contributed 10 points.

Lights out: The start of the second half was delayed 20 minutes as the power went off for a couple of minutes.

Injury report: Freshman center Evan Clayborne (turf toe) and sophomore walk-on point guard Nelson Maxwell (ankle) did not dress.

Waters is hoping that Clayborne will be back for Thursday's road game at Belmont.

Peppers update: Waters was originally hoping to have Gavin Peppers back by the start of conference play, but those plans have changed.

"Gavin is still not there yet," said Waters. "[We will] probably give him another 2-3 weeks and if he's not ready, then we will discuss whether to potentially red-shirt him."

Peppers, a junior college transfer from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming, won the starting point guard job during the preseason, but suffered a "bad, bad bone bruise" in practice and hasn't played in a game this season.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Cleveland State men’s basketball bounces back with win over Bethune-Cookman

After a winless four game road trip, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team got back on track Saturday.

The Vikings took a quick lead over Bethune-Cookman and never looked back, pulling away for a 73-62 win at The Q.

"We were happy to be back in Cleveland," said CSU coach Gary Waters. "It was not a very good looking game, but when you are trying to get back on track you take what you can get."

Demonte Flannigan paced the Vikings (2-5) with a season-high 21 points and nine rebounds, while Rob Edwards scored 19.

Quinton Forrest led the Wildcats (2-6) with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Tabb added 18.

CSU found its identity on defense against the Wildcats as they held them to 37 percent from the field. The Vikings also had seven steals and held a 22-9 edge in point off turnovers.

 "I thought we played hard, especially on the defensive end," Waters said.

The Vikings defense was particular good in the first half. They held Bethune-Cookman to just eight field goals in the first 20 minutes.

Edwards had his best game since injuring his right hand in a loss to Kentucky on Nov. 23. Friday was the first time that Edwards said he was able to shoot a basketball.

"It's getting better, just take it day-to-day and keep icing it and [using] heat pads before going out to the court," Edwards said.

Edwards opened the game with a steal and dunked it with his injured hand to give CSU a quick 2-0 lead.

B-CU tied it 2-2 on a pair of free throws from Brandon Tabb. Then it was all CSU.

CSU built a 12-4 lead six minutes into the game and entered halftime leading 38-24. B-CU never got closer then 11 in the second half.

The Vikings outscored the Wildcats 40-36 inside the paint and CSU also held a 16-11 advantage in second chance points.

"We did a good job of attacking the basket in the first half and getting the ball inside," said Waters. "We knew if we could get the ball inside that we could score."

Homecoming: B-CU head coach Gravelle Craig played basketball at CSU from 1991-94.

Injury updates:  Junior forward Anthony Wright (ankle) and sophomore walk-on guard Nelson Maxwell (hamstring) did not dress.

Wright was injured in the second half of CSU's loss to Arkansas State on Wednesday. Waters is hoping Wright will be back for Wednesday's game against Western Michigan.

Waters said Maxwell has a "bad, bad sprain" and is out a couple of weeks.