Cleveland State mens basketball heads to March Madness for the third time in program history
By: August Vullo
It has been 12 years since the Cleveland State University Vikings have reached the NCAA tournament, but finally, in 2021 they have made it back to the “promised land.” The major factor for Cleveland State reaching this point has been Head Coach Dennis Gates, who has come up with intuitive game plans and has rallied his players despite COVID-19 challenges.
Two stand-out players from the Horizon League tournament games were Torrey Patton and Tre Gomillion. Patton averaged a double-double 22.3 points and 12 rebounds in the tournament games and Gomillion averaged a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Their valiant efforts really provided a spark to help propel the team to the three tournament wins they needed to win the Horizon League Championship.
There were also other stand-out players that gave a boost to the bench and on the court. Algevon Eichelberger played 37 minutes off the bench against Purdue Fort Wayne, scoring 20 points with five assists and six rebounds. He also hit a clutch three to send the game into triple overtime to give the Vikings a victory. Jayson Woodrich also helped propel the Vikings into March Madness with his 11 points scored off the bench in only nine minutes of play.
CSU’s path to glory was not an easy one. The first game against Purdue Fort Wayne saw the team go into three overtimes in order to take down the 10th seed. That is the personification of the madness this team has faced this March.
In the second game, CSU faced the eighth-seeded Milwaukee. In the first half of the match up, they showed signs of fatigue from the multiple overtimes of the last game. Only scoring 24 points to Milwaukee’s 30. The second half was a completely different story as Cleveland State got things going by scoring 47 points- almost double what they scored in the first half. Milwaukee was able to get 35 points, but they were no match for CSU and the final score was 71-65.
In the championship game, Cleveland State faced off against third-seeded Oakland. They led almost the entire time scoring 40 points in the first and second half of the game. They ended up beating Oakland 80-69 to win the Horizon League Championship and to punch their ticket into March Madness for the third time in program history.
Coach Gates said, “Our guys love each other, they play for each other, they play with each other, and they leave whatever they have on the court.”
You can catch the Vikings in action during the NCAA March Madness Tournament which is set to kick off March 18.