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.