Sunday, December 3, 2017

Cleveland State's rally falls just short at Kent State

KENT, Ohio -- Cleveland State men's basketball coach Dennis Felton wasn't too happy when his team headed to the locker room trailing Kent State by 11 at the break.

The Vikings trailed by as many as 19 in the first half, were outrebounded 16-4 on the offensive glass, outscored 17-2 in second chance points and 20-10 in the paint.

"Our team played too soft in the first half on both ends," said Felton. "In the locker room, the message was to go out in the second half and make this a long, tough night for Kent State. We did that."

When the Vikings returned to the court after intermission, they made a furious comeback closing within one point with 4:47 to go, but only to see the Golden Flashes end the game on a 17-8 run to pull out a 72-62 victory Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.

 Anthony Wright led the Vikings (2-5) in both points and rebounds, posting his first career double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. The Pennsylvania native was 8-of-11 shooting.

"Anthony was terrific," said Felton.

Kenny Carpenter had 14 points, all in the second half, while Tyree Appleby added 13 off the bench.

Kevin Zabo led the Golden Flashes (5-3) with 17 points. Adonis De La Rosa added 16 points and Jalen Avery finished with 15 points.

The game was tied at 8-8 at the first media timeout.

Over the next 12 minutes, KSU took control of the game, using a 23-9 run to take a 31-14 lead.

The Vikings ended the first half with a 10-2 run and closed within 35-24 at the break. Wright capped off the run with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Only four Vikings scored in the first half. Neither of them were CSU's top four scorers - Kenny Carpenter, Dontel Highsmith, Stefan Kenic and Bobby Word -  all went scoreless in the first 20 minutes.

Wright kept CSU in the game in the first half, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including three treys. No other Viking scored more then five points in the first half.

"We barely started to get control of the glass towards the end of the first half," said Felton. "In the second half, we controlled the glass. That's the only way we were going to have a chance to win."

CSU held an 18-13 edge on the boards in the second half, including 8-2 on the offensive glass.

Wright, Carpenter, and Appleby keyed CSU's second half rally. They scored all 30 points as CSU closed within 55-54.

But CSU couldn't get over the hump as they went the next 2:29 without scoring a point.

Scary moment: With 2:29 to go in the game, Evan Clayborne stayed down on the court with an apparent knee injury. Felton did not have an update on his condition after the game.

Next up: CSU continues its road swing as they travel to Western Michigan on Wednesday. The Broncos, the preseason pick to win the Mid-American Conference, are 4-4.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cleveland State finally wins a close game

Coming off two straight one possession losses, the Cleveland State men's basketball team was back in the same situation again Wednesday night at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings had an eight point lead with five minutes to go, but this time, they were able to hold on to a 75-72 victory over Arkansas State.

"We are trying to change the culture," said Kenny Carpenter, who led the Vikings in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. "We are learning how to win close games. This one gives us (the confidence) that we can do it."

Bobby Word and Anthony Wright each added 11 points for the Vikings (2-4). Dontel Highsmith contributed 10 points, while Evan Clayborne had a career-high eight points and Tyree Appleby dished out a career-high seven assists.

"It was a step in the right direction for our team," said CSU head coach Dennis Felton. "It was a great group effort and we received contributions from everybody who played."

Deven Simms led Arkansas State (2-5) with 14 points, while Tristin Walley added 13, Ty Cockfield 12 and Rashad Lindsey 11.

CSU had to hold off a late rally from Arkansas State, who closed to within one point twice.

The Red Wolves used a 7-0 run to close within 70-69, but CSU answered back with a monster dunk from Clayborne and a free throw from Carpenter to give them some breathing room.

CSU would clamp down on defense, holding the Red Wolves to one field goal the final 3:36 to preserve the win.

Both teams shot an identical 48.3 percent from the floor (29-of-60). Arkansas State made five more 3-pointers then the Vikings. CSU held an edge at the free throw line, going 12-of-16, while ASU was 4-of-10.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cleveland State's late rally falls short in loss to Central Connecticut State

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland State men's basketball team trailed Central Connecticut State by 18 points early in the second half and went on a furious comeback but came up short in a 74-73 loss Friday night at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings (1-4) had opportunities to pull out the win, but couldn't capitalize down the stretch.

Trailing 74-71, freshmen guard Tyree Appleby made a driving layup and was fouled, but missed the free throw.

Still, CSU got a break as CCSU (3-3) turned the ball over when it couldn't inbound. Giving CSU one final shot with 19 seconds to go.

Unfortunately, CSU couldn't get a good look as Stefan Kenic's three-point attempt was heavily contested.

Dontel Highsmith led the Vikings with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Bobby Word added 15 and Kenic 11.

Austin Nehls led four Blue Devils in double-figures with 19 points. Joe Hugley added 14, Mustafa Jones 13 and Tyler Kohl 10.

CSU held an early 13-12 lead, then it went south.

Over the next 10 minutes, the Blue Devils went on a 31-10 run to take a 43-23 lead.

The Vikings closed the first half with three-pointers from Appleby and Word to close within 43-29 at the break.

CSU got off to another slow start to open the second half.

The Blue Devils shredded CSU's defense as their first five field goals of the second half were all point blank layups/dunks that extended their lead to 53-35.

CSU would start to heat up. They made seven 3-pointers as part of a 22-6 run that closed CSU within 59-57.

Kenic's third 3-pointer gave CSU a 69-67 lead with 2:36 to go. Unfortunately for the Vikings that was their only lead of the second half.

Nehls scored CCSU's final seven points to help preserve the win.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Carpenter's career performance powers Cleveland State past Coppin State

By Tom Mieskoski

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland State head coach Dennis Felton was not concerned about the Vikings early shooting slump through the first two games.

'I knew we were a better shooting team that we showed the first two games," said Felton. "I kept reminding the team to move the ball, execute the offense and get high quality shots."

CSU shot a season-high 54.9 percent in an 80-56 victory against Coppin State on Friday night at the Wolstein Center to give Felton his first win with the Vikings.

The Vikings (1-2) tied the single-game school record for 3s with 14. They also shot season-highs in 3-point percentage (43.6) and free throw percentage (76.9).

Senior guard Kenny Carpenter had a career-high 26 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for his second double-double in three games. He also added three assists, three steals, and a block in 36 minutes.

"Kenny was ultra-aggressive and really got on a roll. He made the game easier for us the way he was hitting shots," said Felton. "He has worked harder then any of our guys since I got here in April. This summer he was in the gym three times a day."

The Detroit native is having a breakout year.  Carpenter came into the game leading the team in scoring (11), rebounding (nine) and field goal percentage (58.8).

Carpenter also had plenty of help from his teammates as six other Vikings scored at least seven points.

Freshman Stefan Kenic continued his stellar start to the season with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Senior guard Bobby Word added 12 points (two treys), while Kash Thomas added eight. Anthony Wright, Tyree Appleby and Jamarcus Hairston each had seven points.

DeJuan Clayton led Coppin State (0-4) with 20 points, while Adam Traore added 12.

Carpenter got CSU off to a fast start as he knocked down his first three 3-pointers to give the Vikings an early 11-2 lead.

"After I hit the second one I knew I was feeling it," said Carpenter, who was 10-of-17 shooting, including six treys. "My teammates kept looking for me and encouraging me to shoot it. So I kept shooting."

Carpenter's sixth 3-pointer extended the lead to 39-20.

At the half, Carpenter had already matched his previous career-high of 24 to give CSU a comfortable 41-24 lead. He was 9-of-13 shooting in the first 20 minutes, including 6-of-8 from 3-point distance.

The Vikings put the game away knocking down four 3-pointers during an 18-5 run to start the second half that pushed the lead out to 30.

Sloan misses game: Senior forward Derek Sloan missed Friday's game with what Felton called "chronic issues with his joints."

"He is day-to-day," said Felton. "When he does play he's really being a warrior because he's playing through discomfort and pain."

Sloan, who has started the first two games, has been limited to just 16 minutes through the first two games.

Wright starts: Wright made his first start of the season, replacing Sloan in the starting lineup.

"He has been playing well and he was a better line-up for us," said Felton.

Hales returns: After missing the first two games with a hamstring injury, senior guard Terrell Hales made his debut on Friday.

Hales had two steals and a block in 19 minutes.

"He's an extra possession guy," said Felton. "He adds to our depth and provides energy."

Mouse in the house: During the second media timeout, CSU recognized Ken "Mouse" McFadden

McFadden, one of the stars of CSU's 1986 Sweet 16 team, is the all-team leading scorer in school history, amassing  2,256 points.

Felton thanks students:  Prior to the game, Felton shook hands and talked to the students section.

"I told them I was thrilled they were here," said Felton. "That's our biggest challenge here, to rebuilt our fan base and make it bigger then its ever been."

It was CSU's largest student turnout in years. Approximately 50 to 100 students sat mostly in the two sections behind Coppin State's bench.

Spider signs: Deante "Spider" Johnson, one of the top defenders in the state of Michigan, signed with CSU on Wednesday, the final day of the early recruiting period.

"He will really strengthen our defense and allow us to do more destructive things," said Felton. "He can defend one through five. He's very athletic, and plays above the rim."

The 6-foot-8 forward from Detroit averaged 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots last year for Edison Public School Academy.

Johnson joins Rashad Williams, a high-scoring guard from Detroit, in CSU's class of 2018.

Next up: CSU continues its swing in the Showcase on the Banks Tournament as they travel to East Carolina on Monday.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cleveland State basketball blow 8-point halftime lead, loses Felton's debut

By Tom Mieskoski

AKRON, Ohio -- The Cleveland State men’s basketball team was unable to hold on to an eight-point halftime lead as Akron rallied for a 67-57 win Saturday evening in the opening game of the Northeast Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Doubleheader at J.A.R. Arena.

CSU (0-1), playing its first game under new head coach Dennis Felton, led 30-22 at the break and led by as much as 10 early in the second half. Then it was all Akron

The Zips (1-0) used a 23-4 run to take a nine-point lead and never looked back.

CSU was outscored 45-27 in the final 20 minutes.

"We kind of fell apart when the momentum turned against us," said Felton. "In the second half, they wrestled away control with offensive rebounds and second shot opportunities. It was a poignant lesson learned for our team."

Freshmen guard Tyree Appleby led the Vikings with 13 points.

Senior guard Kenny Carpenter had his first career double-double, posting 11 points and 12 rebounds. Freshmen forward Stefan Kenic added nine points, while senior forward Derek Sloan contributed eight points in 11 minutes.

Daniel Utomi led three Zips in double-figures with 20 points. Eric Parrish added 17 and Jimond Ivey had 10.

It was a tale of two halves, as CSU controlled the entire first half by dominating the boards, but Akron took over in the second half, using its size advantage to control the boards.

Using a 23-16 advantage on the boards, CSU was able to play Felton's uptempo offense in the first half. They held a 6-2 advantage in fastbreak points.

The Vikings opened the game on a 24-12 run. A Parrish three-pointer closed Akron within eight at the half.

Appleby carried the Vikings offense in the first half, scoring nine points on 4-of-8 shooting. Four other Vikings scored at least four points.

CSU's defense held the Zips to 26.7 percent shooting in the first half, including 5-of-16 from three-point distance. The Vikings shot 41 percent.

Akron controlling the boards in the second half, 30-15, and minimized CSU's uptempo offense.. The Vikings only had two fast break points in the final 20 minutes.

"They were aggressive going to the glass," said Felton. "We didn't match their aggression and physicality in the second half."

Foul trouble also turned the game in Akron's favor. The Vikings, which only committed three fouls in the first 20 minutes, were in the bonus before the first media timeout of the second half.

Akron shot 35.1 percent in the second half, but were 18-of-21 from the free throw line. CSU shot 38.5 percent in the final 20 minutes and struggled at the charity stripe, going 6-of-19.

As good as Appleby was in the first half, he struggled in the final 20 minutes.  The Arkansas native made only one of his four shots and struggled at the foul line, going 2-of-7.

"He experienced some things for the first time that the only way you can get better and get over the hump is by going through those experiences." said Felton. "He's a much better shooter than he shot the ball tonight from both the three and free throw line. I don't think that will happen very often."

MACtion: For the second time in three years, the Mid-American Conference swept the Horizon League as Kent State spoiled Jerrod Calhoun's debut with a 111-78 blowout victory in the second game.

The MAC has won five of the six games since the four Northeast Ohio Division I schools have decided to play an annual NE Ohio Coaches vs. Cancer Doubleheader in 2015.

CSU will host the doubleheader next year at the Wolstein Center.

Highsmith suspended: CSU announced before the game that redshirt junior Dontel Highsmith, a NIU transfer, has been suspended for the first three games for a violation of team rules.

Williams signsRashad Williams, a high-scoring guard from Detroit, Mich, signed a National Letter of Intent with CSU earlier this week.

"He's a very potent offensive player," said Felton. "He's such a dynamic guard that can really shoot it with deep range. He can also score off the bounce and is a terrific playmaker. He's going to be a terrific player for us."

A 6-foot-3 point guard, Williams averaged 24.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists at Wayne Memorial High School last year.

Felton said he is hopeful that CSU will sign another player in the early signing period, which ends on Wednesday.

CSU also has a verbal commitment from Uros Plasvik, a 7-foot-1 power forward/center from Serbia, who's prepping at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tn.

Next up: CSU opens the Showcase on the Banks Tournament at Rutgers on Tuesday.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Felton showcases up-tempo offense in Cleveland State's 78-68 exhibition win over Cedarville

By Tom Mieskoski

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Not much is expected of Cleveland State basketball this year.

But, at least, they will play an exciting new style of  play.

New head coach Dennis Felton showcased his uptempo offense in CSU's 78-60 exhibition victory over Cedarville Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings held a 16-0 advantage in fast break points.

"We want to be very aggressive on offense and play as fast as we can (to get easy transition opportunities to score)," said Felton.

Kenny Carpenter led four Vikings in double-figures with 16. Freshmen Tyree Appleby added 15 off the bench. Bobby Word contributed 14 and NIU transfer Dontel Highsmith 11.

"We have to score as a gang," Felton said. "We have to attack as a team, share the ball and give us quality shots."

The Vikings dressed only 10 players as Kash Thomas (concussion), Derek Sloan (multiple ailments), Terrell Hales (hamstring) and Devin Stover (flu) did not dress.

For most of the game, Felton used an eight-man rotation.

"We don't want to be eight deep, but under the circumstances we are," said Felton. "I'm hoping we'll have some guys back (for the season-opener at Akron next week)."

Hales is out 2-3 weeks, while Thomas and Sloan are day-to-day.

The starters were Word, Carpenter, Highsmith, freshmen Stefan Kenic and Evan Clayborne, with Appleby, Anthony Wright, and Jamarcus Hairston coming off the bench.

The Vikings used an 8-0 advantage in fast break points in the first half to take a 39-33 lead at the half.

CSU shot 51.7 percent in the second half to extend the lead to as much as 22.

Scary moment: Prior to the game, Stover was sent to the hospital with what Felton called "an episode before the game."

"We found out after the game that's he's doing well," said Felton.

Felton said Stover has been dealing with flu-like symptons for the past 10 days and practiced for the first time yesterday.

Scary moment II: Word limped off the court with 5:56 left in the game and did not return.

"He cramped up," said Felton.

Scary moment III: Mid-way through the second half, Highsmith hustled to run down a loose ball and collided with a couple of empty courtside seats. He was slow to get up, but stayed in the game.

Up next: CSU opens the season at Akron on Nov. 11.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Cleveland State basketball adds second commitment

A week after landing point guard Rashad Williams, the Cleveland State men's basketball team added a second recruit in the class of 2018.

Serbian center Uros Plavsic committed to Dennis Felton and the Vikings last week, according to 247 Sports.

Plavsic averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season for KK Smederevo where he was a teammate of CSU's Stefan Kenic.

The 7-foot-1, 215-pounder from Ivanjica, Serbia will play his senior year at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, TN.

CSU has four scholarships left for 2018.

Felton said on media day that CSU is look to sign two combo guards, two wings and two forward/bigs.

The early signing period starts next week.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cleveland State men's basketball lands first recruit of 2018 class

Photo: Courtesy of Rashad Williams' Twitter account.
The Cleveland State men’s basketball team has landed its first recruit in the class of 2018.

Point guard Rashad Williams announced on Thursday that he has verbally committed to play for the Vikings in a ceremony at his high school.

"I picked Cleveland State because it just seemed like the best fit," Williams told "I really got along with the coaching staff and really felt the coaching staff was genuine.

"To be honest with you, I talked with coach (Dennis) Felton the most. He was in contact almost every other day, texting me just to see how stuff was. It was stuff even outside of basketball like school and family. That's big for me."

Williams, 6-foot-3, chose the Vikings over Kent State, Toledo, Evansville, Miami (OH), St. Bonaventure and Detroit.

As a junior, Williams averaged 22.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game leading Wayne Memorial High School (MI) to their first ever KLAA Conference championship.

The Vikings have six scholarships to offer in 2018.

Green & White scrimmage: The CSU men's and women's basketball teams will hold its Green vs. White scrimmage on Saturday morning in the auxiliary gym of the Wolstein Center.

The Green vs. White scrimmage is free to the public. The women's basketball team's scrimmage will begin at approximately 10 a.m.. The men's scrimmage will begin at approximately 10:45 a.m.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Target Off the Board

One of Cleveland State's top basketball targets is off the board.

Highly-touted big man Tamell Pearson committed to UAB on Monday after visiting campus this past weekend.
Pearson, a three-star recruit, had CSU among his top six finalists. He chose the Blazers over CSU, Missouri State, Murray State, Oklahoma State and Washington State.

ESPN rates the Chicago native as the third best prospect in Illinois and the 80th-best center in the class of 2018.

CSU is still looking for its first recruit in the class of 2018. They have six scholarships to fill.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Darius Quisenberry lists Cleveland State in top five

Darius Quisenberry named Cleveland State among his top five schools.

Quisenberry, a 6-foot point guard from Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, is also considering Robert Morris, Youngstown State, Wright State and Northern Kentucky.

247Sports rates Quisenberry as a two star recruit and the No. 78 point guard in the nation. Prep Hoops Ohio lists Quisenberry as the No. 8 prospect in Ohio's class of 2018.

CSU has six scholarships to fill in the class of 2018.

The Vikings are also a finalists for Tamell Pearson, a 6-foot-8 forward from Morgan Park High School in Chicago.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stover, Payne joins Vikings roster

Cleveland State welcomed its largest freshmen class this week when students returned to campus for the start of the fall semester.

Among the 2,000 freshmen enrolled at CSU was former St. Ignatius standout Deven Stover.

Stover, a Solon native, will join the men's basketball program as a preferred walk-on, CSU head coach Dennis Felton announced on Tuesday.

"We're excited to add a local player of Deven's ability to our program," Felton said in a written statement. "Deven enjoyed an outstanding career at Cleveland St. Ignatius, which culminated in an epic game against Garfield Heights in the regional semifinals in the Wolstein Center. Deven has terrific size, strength and versatility that allows him to fill many roles in our positionless system of basketball. I look forward to coaching him and helping him grow."
Stover is a 6-foot-5 wing.  He originally committed to Navy, but reopened his recruitment in April after spending one season at the Naval Academy Prep School.

During his prep year, Stover led the team in scoring (13.5 ppg) and assists (5.0).

Stover was a four-year letterwinner at St. Ignatius. He earned team MVP honors as a junior and senior and Best Offensive Player Award distinction in each of his final three seasons.

As a senior, Stover led St. Ignatius in scoring with 16.4 points per game and helped the Wildcats to the regional finals in 2016.

Payne joins program:

On Wednesday, Felton announced that David Payne has joined the men's basketball roster as a preferred walk-on.

Payne, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Malcolm X (Junior) College in Chicago, will have two years of eligibility left with the Vikings.

"David is a great athlete who brings good size, physicality and experience,"Felton said in a written statement. "He had an accomplished career at Malcom X Community College and is extremely serious and motivated. I look forward to working with him and watching his teammates lead him to get up to speed with what it means to be a Viking."

A Evergreen Park, IL native, Payne averaged 13.7 points per game last year for the Hawks.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cleveland State offers free tickets to home opener

Cleveland State is rewarding fans who voted for Magnus in Mid-Major Madness Mascot Melee Championship round with a voucher for two free tickets to its men's basketball home opener against Coppin State on Nov. 17.

Fans interested in obtaining a voucher can e-mail Carrie Neville at and include a screen shot of your vote and your Twitter handle.
Opening as a 14th seed in the Midwest Region, Magnus pulled off stunning upsets of UIC's 'Sparky,' Ohio University's 'Rufus,' South Dakota State's 'Jack', 'Rufus' from Dayton and 'Bill the Goat' from the U.S. Naval Academy in the semifinals.

In the championship round, Magnus was edged out by Scrappy of North Texas who pulled in 51 percent of the vote in a Twitter poll.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cleveland State among finalist for Tamell Pearson

Photo courtesy of
Class of 2018 Morgan Park (IL) power forward Tamell Pearson announced his final six schools on Wednesday, and Cleveland State made the cut.

The other finalists includes Missouri State, Murray State, Oklahoma State, UAB, and Washington State.

Pearson, a three-star recruit, is rated the third-best prospect in Illinois by ESPN and the 31st best power forward nationally.

The 6-foot-8 Pearson is a native of Chicago and played AAU basketball this summer for Mac Irvin Fire.

In a free story over at, here’s what Pearson had to say about each of his six finalists:

Cleveland State:  “They promised me a lot of opportunity to expand my game at the next level. Being able to come in and contribute my freshman year.”

Missouri State:  “They told me I can be a great player in their system. They have been recruiting me very hard from the very beginning.”

Murray State:  “They came in during the middle of the process and told me that I would be great in their system.”

Oklahoma State:  “They have been in there from the very start. They have been recruiting me for a long time. I really love the school and the atmosphere.”

UAB:  “They are a great school. They are recruiting me the hardest out of everyone. I love the coach. They call me every day and check up on me. I will be able to contribute there my freshman year.”  

Washington State:  “The coach comes from Chicago and knows a lot about me. They came in late during Vegas. I really love the research I did about their school.”

CSU has six scholarships to fill in the class of 2018.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cleveland State named Dennis Felton as its next basketball coach

Dennis Felton
Cleveland State has named Dennis Felton as its next basketball coach, the school announced on Friday.

"Dennis Felton has a championship pedigree and has coached and recruited at the highest level," CSU Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said in a written statement. "He will be an outstanding leader for the student-athletes in our basketball program, on the court, in the classroom and in the community."

Felton will be officially introduced at a press conference at 2 p.m. on Monday.

"I'm extremely excited to return to the head coaching ranks with this opportunity at Cleveland State University," Felton said in a written statement. "I'm grateful to Dr. Berkman and Mike Thomas for the opportunity to lead this program. Cleveland State is an outstanding University that continues to grow in stature on the national landscape. I'm eager to start working with our players to build a championship program and getting out to share my vision of how we plan to partner with the entire community to do special things at Cleveland State."

Felton, 53, spent the last three seasons as the assistant head coach at Tulsa under Frank Haith where he was in charge of the defense. He has previous head coaching experience at Western Kentucky (1999-2003) and Georgia (2003-09).

At WKU, Felton had his most success with a record of 100-54, guiding the Hilltoppers to three straight Sun Belt Conference Tournament titles.

Felton was hired by Georgia in 2003. He went 84-91 at Southeastern Conference school, guiding the Bulldogs to the SEC Tournament title in 2008. He was fired in 2009 at mid-season following an 0-5 start in SEC play.

Prior to joining Tulsa, Felton worked in the NBA as a scout for the Phoenix Suns, a summer league coach for the New Jersey Nets and as director of pro personnel for the San Antonio Spurs.

Felton replaces Gary Waters who retired on March 7 after 11 seasons with the Vikings.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cleveland State loses another heartbreaker in double overtime

It’s an old adage that in basketball if you live by the three, you die by the three.

The Cleveland State men's basketball team found that out the hard way Saturday afternoon in a heartbreaking 74-68 double overtime loss to Wright State at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings made just nine three-pointers all night while spending most of the evening chucking shots from the perimeter.

"The reason we lost this game is because half of our shots were threes," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters. "We need to find ways to get to the basket."

Thirty two of CSU's 62 shots came from three-point range. They made only 28 percent of them.

All seven of their shots in the second overtime came from long distance. They made only two of them.

"We can't shoot a lick," said Waters. "When you shoot 22-of-62 [35.5 percent], it's impossible [to win]."

Rob Edwards (17 points) went 3-of-9 from three-point distance. He missed a three from the top of the key at the end of regulation that could have sealed the game for the Vikings.

Bobby Word (16 points) missed all eight shots from long distance.

Demonte Flannigan was the lone bright spot for the Vikings.

The Villa Angela-St.Joseph product made all three of his shots from long distance and led CSU with 22 points. He was 8-of-12 from the field.

Flannigan's dunk tied the game at 60-60 and sent the game into double overtime. He only attempted one shot in the second overtime - a three-pointer.

Wright State's Grant Benzinger scored six of his game-high 26 points in the second overtime. His fourth three-pointer of the game gave WSU the led for good 63-61.

Benzinger was 10-of-18 from the field, including 4-of-9 from long distance. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.

"We let Benzinger get away," said Waters. "He scored only four points in the first meeting."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Cleveland State loses another close game

The Cleveland State men's basketball team once again found themselves in a position to win down the stretch and once again, they did not capitalize down the stretch.

CSU rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half and took a one point lead with 57 seconds to go, but Drew McDonald knocked down three free throws to give Northern Kentucky a 62-60 victory.

"That game was our game to take, but we didn't finish it. That has been our M.O. all season," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters.  "We got one guy who can score and we don't have anyone who can help him."

Edwards led the Vikings (8-19, 4-11 HL) with 19 points, while Kash Thomas added 11. Demonte Flannigan and Bobby Word struggled, shooting a combined 4 -for-18, for 15 points.

Carson Williams led the Norse (18-9, 9-5 HL) with 22 points.

CSU held McDonald, who scored a career-high 37 points against the Vikings in the first meeting in Highland Height, Ky., in check for most of the game. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.

McDonald was 1-for-7 from the field, but cashed in at the line, going 10-for-13.

Friday's loss at the Wolstein Center marked the seventh time during conference play that the Vikings have lost by five points or less.

"Breakdowns and mistakes," Waters said about what the difference have been in all these close games. "It came down to three plays - two free throws we missed, a layup Demonte [Flannigan] missed and a turnover by Kash (Thomas)."

Trailing 61-60,  Flannigan missed a point-blank layup with seven seconds left.

"All he had to do is lay it in. That was the game," said Waters.

Flannigan, a Villa Angela-St. Joseph product, was just just 2 of 10 from the field and finished with six points.

After McDonald split a pair at the line, CSU had one last chance, but they couldn't get a quality shot off. Rob Edwards' three-point attempt at the buzzer resulted in an air-ball.

CSU shot 30 percent in the opening half and trailed 33-27 at the half.

The Vikings started the second half slow as NKU made four of its first five shot to take its largest lead 12, 42-30.

CSU rallied using a match-up zone to slow down NKU's high powered offense. The zone held the Norse to just one field goal in the final 11:14.

A 14-6 run gave CSU a 58-56 lead with 2:33 to go, but then CSU's offense stalled again. They went the final 2;32 without a field goal.

McDonald answered back with a three-pointer - his only field goal of the game - put the Norse up 59-58.

CSU would take one last lead as Anthony Wright calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to put the Vikings up, 61-59.

But McDonald sank 3-of-4 free throws down the stretch to give NKU its sixth win in its last seven games.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Big second half sends Cleveland State past Detroit Mercy

Whatever message Gary Waters delivered to his players at halftime Thursday came through loud and clear.

Down by seven at the half, Cleveland State flat-out got after it on both ends of the floor and snapped its three-game losing streak with a 90-73 victory against Detroit Mercy at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings opened the second half on a 29-5 run and and never looked back.

"That's the best run we had in a long time," said Waters. "The second half we came out like we should have played in the first half."

Rob Edwards scored a team-high 24 points to lead five Vikings (7-16, 3-8 Horizon League) in double figures. Bobby Word scored all 17 of his points in the second half. Kash Thomas added 15 points and seven assists. Anthony Wright contributed 11 points and Demonte Flannigan 10.

Corey Allen led the Titans (5-18, 3-6 HL) with 24 points. He was 6 of 9 from three-point range.

So, what did Waters say at the break?

"Defense in the first five minutes,'' Word said of the halftime message,

Waters added: "It wasn't said like that. I was pretty blunt in the lockerroom because I thought we had no life and no energy [in the first half]."

CSU's aggressive defense caused the Titans to turn it over five times in their first seven possessions of the second half, which led to a lot of easy transition points for the Vikings.

Detroit Mercy opened the second half with a three-pointer from Allen to take its largest lead, 10, 43-33.

Then it was all CSU.

The Vikings took control of the game, scoring the next 19 points - 10 coming from Edwards, who knocked down a pair of threes.

CSU opened the second half, making 12 of its first 16 shots to built an 18 point lead, 65-47, with 10:27 to go.

They never trailed by less then 12 the rest of the game.

CSU shot a blistering 61.3 percent in the second half, including 8 of 16 from long range.

After shooting 51.9 percent in the opening half, Detroit made just nine field goals in the final 20 minutes.

CSU held a 26-25 led with 4:39 to go in the first half, but were outscored 15-7 the rest of the way as the Titans took a 40-33 lead at the break.

“We let them score too many points in the first half," said Waters.

Wright starts second half:  Wright started the second half in place of Derek Sloan.

"We were playing their basketball and they were pounding us inside. We wanted to go small ball and make them have to play us," said Waters. "I thought the key [to the 29-5 run] was A Wright. He brought energy."

Inside the numbers: The 90 points were the most scored by the Vikings this season. Previous high was 85 in a win against Western Michigan at the Q in early December.

CSU came in averaging a Horizon League-low 66.8 points a game.

It was the most points that CSU has scored in nearly four seasons when Charlie Lee scored a career-high 31 points in a 92-85 victory at Oakland during the 2013-14 season.

Peppers practice: Gavin Peppers, who is slated to red-shirt this year after suffering an Achilles injury during the preseason, has began practicing with the Vikings.

"Peppers has looked good [in practice]," said Waters. "I'm not going to play him just for a few games."

The transfer from Laramie County Community College in Wyoming was slated to open the season as CSU's starting point guard.

Court repairs: According to Waters, CSU was only able to practice yesterday on their home floor as the court was being repaired this week.

"[The court] was gaping and they had to repair it from underneath," he said.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Valpo's Peters too much for Cleveland State

Cleveland State was only able to contain Alec Peters for about nine minutes Saturday, but in the final 31 minutes Valparaiso's star forward showed why he's a top NBA draft prospect.

Peters, who rates as the No. 29 prospect in this year's upcoming draft, scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half to help hold off CSU's late rally as the Crusaders held on to a 78-67 victory at the Wolstein Center.

"Peters had a phenomenal game," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters. "Every time we made a mistake, he made us pay."

Rob Edwards led the Vikings (5-13, 1-5 HL) with 22 points, while Bobby Word added 14, knocking down four three-pointers.

"We needed more from Rob today [to beat a team like Valpo,]" said Waters.

The Vikings held Peters scoreless through the first two media timeouts as CSU built an early 16-4 lead.

CSU opened the game making five of its first 10 shots from the field, while Valpo (14-4, 4-1 HL) started off 1-of-11.

But the Vikings couldn't hold on to the lead for the long.

"Peters started playing,"Waters said about what turned the game around in favor of Valpo. "Then he went to work."

Peters was held to one shot in the first nine minutes.

Coming out of the second media timeout, Peters knocked down his first shot of the game - a 3-pointer - closed the Crusaders within 16-7 and sparked a 30-12 run to close out the half that allowed Valpo to take control of the game.

Peters second 3-pointer, tied it at 27-27 and his free throw gave them the lead for good, 28-27.

CSU went the final five minutes of the opening half without a field goal and trailed 34-28 at the intermission.

Peters led the Crusaders with 11 first half points, while Edwards (nine) and Demonte Flannigan (seven) paced the Vikings.

A three-point play from Peters extended Valpo's lead to 17, 47-30.

The Vikings would make it interesting. Using a fullcourt press, CSU closed to within four, 68-64, but they ran out of gas.

Valpo closed the game on a 10-3 run to pull out the win.

"I thought we played hard enough to win," Waters said. "The problem was we had two periods when we let them get away from us."

CSU shot 38.9 percent from the field and were 8-of-24 from three-point distance.

Valpo shot 42.3 percent from the field and were 2-of-11 from long range. The Crusaders held a huge edge at the free throw line, getting to the charity stripe 37 times and making 32 of them, while CSU was 17-of-25.

The Crusaders also held a 43-25 edge in rebounding.

Scoring drought:

The Vikings went through one long stretch where they made just 4-of-21 shots and took a 27-22 CSU lead and turned it into a 47-30 Valpo advantage.

"We need to shoot better period," said Waters. "We need to shoot 45 percent."

Return of the press: Waters indicated that press is here to stay.

"This week is the first week we said we are going to go at it full pledge pressing," he said. "I know in order to press like that it takes time. I thought today we took a big step. Monday we will take another step until we finally get this mastered."

Waters was asked by a reporter if he plans to press for the entire game.

"That is the plan," he said.

Maxwell shines: Following CSU's 59-54 loss to UIC on Thursday, Waters was very critical of sophomore point guard Nelson Maxwell after he turned it over four times.

But on Saturday, Waters praised the walk-on from Orange Village. Maxwell was the one running the show in the second half when CSU made its late run.

"I thought he played much better. He hit some key baskets and didn't turn it over," Waters said. "I thought he was a big reason why we got back into the game."

Maxwell tied his career-high with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. He had one assists, three rebounds and only one turnover in 18 minutes.

 Next up: CSU travels to second-place Oakland on Monday.

 The Golden Grizzlies (14-4, 4-1 HL) are coming off its first conference loss - a 93-88 setback - against rival Detroit at the O'rena Friday.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cleveland State men's basketball blows 9-point lead, falls to UIC

Cleveland State let another second half lead slip away Thursday night at the Wolstein Center.

The Vikings held a nine-point lead with 13 minutes to go, but the Vikings couldn't close out the Illinois-Chicago Flames.

UIC shot 60 percent in the second half and used a 24-7 run to take control of the game and held on to a 59-54 victory.

"We gave a game a way today," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters whose squad dropped its third straight. "Our problem is we didn't execute down the stretch. And we turned over the ball at the wrong times. When we do a better job of [taking care of the ball] we will start to win ball games."

CSU (5-12, 1-4 Horizon League) shot 39 percent from the field and turned it over 19 times. UIC (9-8, 2-2 HL) shot 42 percent from the field and held a 39-30 edge in rebounding.

Rob Edwards led the Vikings with 13 points, while Bobby Word and Jamarcus Hairston added 10 points a piece.

Dominique Matthews and Clint Robinson led the Flames with 11 points a piece, while Godwin Boahen added 10.

The Vikings shot just 37 percent in the opening half, but closed the half on a 9-0 run to take a 23-20 lead at the intermission.

CSU opened the second half strong. They made five of its first eight shots to take a 39-30 lead on Word's second three-pointer of the half, Then it went south for the Vikings.

They turned it over five times in the final 13 minutes and shot 6-of-11 from the free throw line down the stretch.

"You can miss free throws down the stretch," said Waters.

Peppers update: Gavin Peppers, CSU's projected starting point guard, is still recovering from a "bad bone bruise" on his foot and is likely headed for a red-shirt.

"It's a great possibility that Peppers won't play this year," Waters said.

Peppers hasn't appeared in a game this season for the Vikings.

Next up: CSU host Valparaiso, the preseason pick to win the Horizon League, on Saturday afternoon at the Wolstein Center. Tipoff is 3 p.m.

The Crusaders (13-4, 3-1 HL) have won four of its last five and are coming off a 78-62 victory at Youngstown State on Thursday.

"We got to go out and fight like dogs," Waters said.