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.

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