By Maddie Saines
The Cleveland State University men’s basketball program has officially started their season with three non-conference games against the MAC competitors University of Toledo and Ohio University, and Big Ten Conference, Ohio State University.
CSU faced off against the University of Toledo Rockets on Dec 1 at Toledo. This was the 17th overall meeting between the Vikings and the Rockets in program history.
The Vikings started the season without its senior powerhouse, and strong defensive player, Al Eichelberger, who is currently out with a foot sprain until further notice.
The team had a strong lead in the first half of the game with freshman guard Alec Oglesby, junior forward Denate Johnson, freshman forward Jayson Woodrich, senior guard Craig Beaudion, and junior guard Tre Gomillion all putting up points. CSU led 35-23 in the first half.
In the second half, the Rockets came back strong, returning from the 11-2 deficit. The Vikings put up a fight; however, the Rockets eventually prevailed with a final score of 70-61.
The Vikings then headed down to Athens, Ohio to take on the Ohio University Bobcats on Dec 6. The Vikings had a rocky start, dropping behind the Bobcats and never gaining a lead. Johnson put up points for the Vikings again and led in rebounds. Woodrich also put up points alongside junior guard D’Moi Hodge, junior forward Chris Greene, and freshman forward Mabor Majak.
The Vikings fell to the Bobcats with a tough, 101-46 eventual loss. In a post-game press conference Head Coach, Dennis Gates said the Bobcats were very prepared to meet the Vikings in the non-conference game.
“I thought Ohio was well-prepared. They won the first five possessions and we never really recovered as a team emotionally. I thought our guys fought. They had great intentions, but when you have a veteran team that you’re playing against, you have to respond because they will go on a run at some point and time”
In their final non-conference game, the Vikings faced off against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio on Dec 13. This is the 10th overall meeting between the two opponents in program history. The last time the Vikings faced the big ten competitors was in the 2018 season, losing 89-62.
The Vikings were not able to get control of the ball early in the game and did not get rebounds they needed to gain a lead on the Big Ten Buckeyes.This led to a final score of 61- 67, the Buckeyes prevailing.
While the Vikings did not come home with a win, the team put in the work practicing three straight days the week prior to the face off during finals week and were playing again without Eichelberger.
In a post game press conference Coach Gates said he was disappointed with the loss, but the Vikings were able to take whatever was thrown at them during this matchup.
“We did a great job fighting and handling anything that came our way,” Gates said. “Wish we could have taken control of the ball earlier…we were fighting uphill.” “I thought we left too many points on the board.”
The Vikings’ first Horizon League conference games will be in Moon Township, PA against the Robert Morris Colonials on Dec 19 and 20. The team returns home to the Wolstein Center on Dec 26 where they will face the Youngstown State University Penguins.
CSU will start their homestand without fans because of COVID-19 precautions; however, the games are streamed via ESPN. The links to stream from home, find player stats, and game recaps can be found here.
*Update: The Robert Morris University match up has been cancelled for COVID-19 protocols. The Vikings will seek a conference opponent for that weekend. Updates to the schedule can be found at the link above.*