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January 31, 2013

CSU hoops persevere through Horizon hardships

By Stephanie Metzger

With the month of March — and all of the madness that accompanies it — quickly approaching, the Cleveland State Vikings men’s basketball team has weathered its share of storms.

The team may be youthful, but the important lessons it has learned so far have not been overlooked.

Viking Devon Long against Loyola RamblersLast Wednesday, the Vikings (10-11) hosted the Loyola University Ramblers (12-7) at the Wolstein Center for the Vikings’ seventh league matchup of the season. The Vikings started the game strong, holding an early 11-point lead, but as the first half wound down, so did the Vikings’ shooting percentage.

With 35 seconds remaining in the first half, the Ramblers overcame the scoring deficit to tie the game at 25-25, ending the half as Junior Lomomba missed a three-pointer for the Vikings in the final second.

Cleveland State started the second half in similar fashion to the first as they gained an early lead again. Holding a nine-point lead with just under 15 minutes remaining, things started to unravel as the Ramblers went on an uncontested run. The Vikings suffered through a six-minute stretch during which they could not score, allowing Loyola to tie the game at 48-48 with just under seven minutes to go.

Freshman Bryn Forbes ended the deadlock as he hit a three-pointer for the Vikings, but Loyola guard Cully Payne responded with a three of his own. With four minutes remaining, the game slipped from the Vikings’ grasp.

A handful of missed shots and a couple of costly turnovers drove the nail in the Vikings’ coffin as they could not impede the Ramblers from pulling away, sealing the final score at 67-55 in Loyola’s favor.

Cleveland State coach Gary Waters noted that the team gave a strong enough effort, but the final four minutes were the Achilles’ heel.

“I thought our kids played hard enough to win the game, and in a four-minute span, the whole game got away from us,” Waters said.

Waters also noted that the team’s failure to produce offensively was once again an issue.

“One of the things I wrote on the board in the locker room was we had to get 65 points,” he explained. “We had to start scoring, and we didn’t score enough.”

Forbes had a career night as he accumulated a team-leading 22 points. Forbes’ former career best was 21 points, which he set earlier in the year against Detroit. He also went 3-of-4 on his three-point shots and hit all five of his free throw attempts. Despite his memorable night, Forbes could not pinpoint what went wrong.

“I feel like we just hit a dry spot,” Forbes said. “We just couldn’t score. We were turning the ball over, giving up rebounds, and I don’t know if it was a mental lapse. The last five minutes, I didn’t know where we were.”

Forbes, a freshman from Lansing, Mich., averages 11.8 points per game this season, and leads the team with 248 total points on the year.

Next, the Vikings head to Chicago to face the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames on Feb. 2, who are presently 12-8.