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.

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