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.