Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University men’s basketball team saw its brief two-game win streak end Sunday with a 73-60 defeat to undefeated Samford.
Samford (5-0) jumped ahead by double-digits early thanks to poor shooting on CSU’s end. Samford quickly cooled off as well, and a couple of well-timed runs by the Vikings (2-3) allowed them to stay in the game.
CSU drew within five on a Jalaam Hill 3-pointer with just under five minutes left in the half, but Samford used back-to-back layups to bring its lead back to nine.
CSU then scored the last eight points of the half, capped-off by a Dontel Highsmith 3-pointer at the buzzer, to get as close as it was since the beginning of the game. Going into the half, CSU trailed, 35-34.
The second half started poorly for the Vikings, as they missed their first 11 shots out of the locker room, but they rattled off five straight to close the gap back to eight. Samford quickly snuffed that run out with a 3-pointer to push its lead back to double-digits.
The Vikings trailed by double-digits throughout most of the second half, but climbed within 10 with just under five minutes to play. However, a Samford 7-0 run downed CSU once and for all.
The Vikings’ offense was streaky throughout, but their scoring runs allowed them to stay close throughout much of the game. Despite CSU’s inability to consistently score, Head Coach Dennis Felton maintained that defense was — and has been — the main issue. He believes the team can score plenty, but must tighten up on defense if it wants to improve.
“I think we need to help our team stop worrying so much about scoring, and concern themselves more with defense,” Felton said. “We’re going to be able to score and have [enough] points to win, but we have to be able to get stops when we have to get them.”
3-point-shooting was the Vikings’ Achilles heel, as they shot just 21 percent (6-28) from range. Overall, the Vikings shot just 32 percent.
“Whenever you’re really struggling to make open shots or make shots at the rim, that makes for a real challenging game,” Felton said.
Up next, the Vikings travel south to take on in-state foe Ohio State Friday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m.
Photo by Matthew Johns