Cleveland State opens Horizon League play at home with a 62-57 win over Loyola

[Editor’s note: I’m really excited to welcome Brendan Bowers of Stepien Rules back into the fold as a consistent MSF contributor. Brendan will be covering Cleveland State Viking basketball for the remainder of the season from his official seat in press row, representing MSF. Welcome back Brendan.]

With 3:47 left in the second half, and the Cleveland State Vikings (6-10, 2-2) clinging to a 52-50 lead, Loyola University’s Aric Van Weelden (11 points) hit a three from the right corner to put the visiting Ramblers up 53-52.

But after opening the first three conference games on the road, amidst a tough stretch of losses, the Vikings refused to let this one get away.

norris-cole-cleveland-stateVikings’ guard Norris Cole:

“Every conference game is important and especially protecting your home court is always important in conference, and we know we can’t let games slip away.  We are taking it one game at a time, but we know we’ll be looking at a seed at the end of the year.  We’re not looking too far ahead, but we know if we take care of our home court it’ll put us in a good situation for that.”

Cole (20 points – game high) did his part on Thursday in Cleveland.

With 1:16 to go, he found Trevon Harmon (6 points, 5 assists) who nailed a three from the corner to tie the score at 55.  Seconds later, off a sweet feed from Jeremy Montgomery (15 points), Cole made a hard driving layup, got fouled, and then drilled the free throw to put CSU up 58-55, which proved to be enough as CSU went on to win 62-57.

Last night’s game was a much needed win for the Vikings as they came into Thursday night’s game having lost 9 of their last 11 overall, and 2 of the first 3 in conference.

But maybe more telling in the win is the fact that the tough stretch of games – playing four teams ranked in the nation’s top-15 as well as an ACC school in Virginia – may have helped this young team. The Vikings return only two starters from a team that made an NCCA tournament run a year ago, and they young players appear to be growing up just in time for conference play.

At least Coach Gary Waters seems to think so:

“I didn’t focus on the losing, because we could have played the sisters of the poor and had a winning streak.   I mean, I could have changed that whole schedule and we would have had wins, and everyone would have been happy, and then we’d go and lose this game [Thursday].  So, what we had to do was learn from that experience, and I think this team says that was one season.  And we talked about it as a staff and as a team.  That’s 2009, now we’re in 2010, forget about whatever happened in ’09, but learn from what happened.”

After last night’s win over Loyola University (11-4, 2-3), Gary Waters’ club is a perfect 2-0 in the the 2010 calendar year, and right in the thick of the Horizon League race at 2-2 going into Saturday’s home match-up with UIC.

Walt Gibbler and Terrance Hill each paced Loyola with 13 apiece, and D’Aundray Brown had 13 points to go with 7 rebounds for the Vikings.  CSU scored 21 points off the 17 TO’s their defensive pressure created, which fueled the victory.

* – Norris Cole photo credit: LeagueLineup.com

**********
Custom Cornhole Boards and AccessoriesIn addition to having media credentials to cover all Cleveland State home games for Midwest Sports Fans, Brendan can also be found talking all things Cleveland Cavaliers at his Cavs blog, Stepien Rules, or on twitter @StepienRules.

Brendan’s contributions to Midwest Sports Fans are sponsored by BigTimeGameBoards.com, the company that helps you tailgate like a champion with our high quality cornhole boards, sets and accessories. And if you don’t know what cornhole is, you aren’t a Midwesterner.




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