By Samantha Meyer
The Cleveland State University women’s basketball team began their season on a hot streak where they had an 11-game win streak during the months of November and December.
“We were filled with joy each win we got together,” junior Mariah White said. “We were hungry for more.”
Their 14-4 record this season already surpasses last year’s record of 10-20. With only three upperclassmen on the team, the Vikings have a young roster that will get a lot of experience against the Horizon League in their careers.
The Vikings started off the new year with a game on Jan. 2 at Wright State University. The women played a tough game with sophomore forward Savanna Crockett leading the way with 18 points. Assisting Crockett with 12 points was senior guard Mariah Miller. Sophomore guard JaMiya Braxton also added another 10 points, but the Vikings would come up short, losing 78-62.
The loss against the defending Horizon League champions did not stop Cleveland State from capturing two more wins in the next two games. The ladies traveled to Northern Kentucky University on Jan. 4 to compete for the second time in 2020. Miller brought her A-game, leading the team with 21 points. Close behind her were Crockett and White, who both contributed 16 points to the Vikings final score. Miller and Crockett also led the team in rebounds, totaling 16 rebounds between each other. Overall, the team made 45% of their shots and defeated Northern Kentucky 73-68.
A week later, the women’s team faced Youngstown State University in their first game at the Wolstein Center of 2020. Miller paved the way for another Vikings’ win by scoring 17 points. White added to the Mariah take over by scoring 13 points, and senior Jade Ely contributed 11 points off the bench. The Vikings totaled five blocks for the night, while White and Ely both had two steals. The night ended with a 60-52 win for the Vikings, marking their 13th win for the season. Only five players can be on the court at one time, which is why the bench players are so crucial to basketball. White sees the depth of Cleveland State as their biggest weapon.
“I believe that our team’s strength is depth,” White said. “We have so many weapons starting from our starters to anyone that comes off the bench. We all understand our roles and are willing to give it all.”
On Jan. 16, the team traveled to Michigan to face the University of Detroit Mercy. While Crockett, Miller and Braxton scored 46 of the team’s 59 points and Miller snatched 16 rebounds and five assists, the team came up short, losing 70-59.
The team was able to rebound against Oakland, without Miller and Crockett in the starting lineup. All three came off the bench, with Miller and Crockett finishing with 24 and 17 points, respectively. Crockett also added nine rebounds, and sophomore guard Isabelle Gradwell contributed 13 points to help the Vikings win 79-58.
With only two months until the Horizon League tournament, the team is preparing to try and bring the title back home to Cleveland. White feels like the pieces are here for the team to win a championship this season.
“I feel good about us heading into the Horizon League Tournament,” White said. “We set a goal to hang a banner, so I along with the rest of the team, expects to win the championship this year.”