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.

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