By: Maddie Saines
As the Cleveland State University men’s basketball team enters the second half of their COVID contingency season, they are currently sitting in the top spot out of 12 teams in the Horizon League with a record of 10-2.
The Vikings have had an impressive season; maintaining an undefeated conference record facing off in two-game series against Purdue University Fort Wayne, Youngstown State University, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, Northern Kentucky University, and the first game against Wright State University.
The Vikings’ first match-up against the Wright State Raiders on Jan.15 in Dayton, Ohio, was selected to be broadcasted on ESPNU. This game was a close match-up between the Raiders and the Vikings. Senior Torrey Patton, and juniors Deante Johnson and D’Moi Hodge were among the leading scorers for CSU, with Deante Johnson putting up a buzzer-beater alley-oop with 1.4 seconds remaining in the last half.
In the opening statement in the post-game press conference, coach Dennis Gates commended the Vikings for their hard work against the then 6-3 Wright State.
“Wow… that was a game of inches… I am speechless as to the amount of character and fight and resilience our program showed this evening,” Gates said.
The second matchup against the Raiders ended CSU’s undefeated record. The Raiders managed to hold a strong lead against the Vikings for the duration of the contest with a final score of 85-49. Patton again was amongst the Vikings leading scorers along with junior Yahel Hill.
After returning home with their first conference loss, the 9-1 Vikings began their two-game series against 4-3 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers at the CSU Wolstein Center.
In the first match-up of the series on Friday Jan. 22, the Vikings held a slight lead against the Panthers for a majority of the first half, however were 33-31 going into half-time. The second half was an uphill battle with the Panthers closely trailing the Vikings. CSU was ultimately victorious with a final score of 64-53.
The second game was also a hard fought battle for the Vikings playing the Panthers into over time. Five Vikings scored 10 or more points during this match-up including Patton, Hodge, Tre Gomillion, Chris Greene and Craig Beaudion. CSU led Milwaukee 80-79 in the final seconds of overtime, until the Panthers scored in a layup putting them in the lead and winning the game 81-80.
Because of COVID concerns, fans will still not be able to catch the Vikings live in action. However, fans and students can still support the team from home by watching the live steamed contests and checking the live updated stats via www.csuvikings.com. The Vikings’ next series will be played at the Wolstein Center Friday, Jan. 29 against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.