Cleveland State women’s basketball looks to make its mark in Indianapolis as playoffs begin

The Cleveland State University Vikings women’s basketball team finished the month of February with three critical conference games.

On Feb. 21, the Vikings traveled to Michigan to take on the University of Detroit Mercy. The Vikings trailed Mercy 37-35 at halftime but were led back by junior Gabriella Smith and sophomore Destiny Leo who each scored 18 points as CSU claimed an 80-60 victory over their rival. The Vikings’ strong defense showed in the victory as they forced Detroit to turn the ball over 24 times which led to 26 points for Cleveland State.

Then, on Feb. 24, the Vikings returned home to the Wolstein Center to face the Milwaukee Panthers. In their match against the Panthers, Cleveland State was led in scoring by senior Nadia Dumas who finished the game with 16 points. The Vikings also found scoring help from Smith and junior Amele Ngwafang who each added 12 points.

Women’s basketball celebrates after winning their first playoff game of the season. Photo courtesy of Vikings Athletics

Much like Mercy, Milwaukee was pestered by the Vikings’ defense. Cleveland State forced the Panthers into 25 turnovers which resulted in 36 points. It was a memorable game for Leo who recorded a career-high six steals and was followed closely by Smith who had four. The Vikings defeated Milwaukee 67-55.

Cleveland State finished its regular season with a tight 66-64 loss at home against Green Bay. The Vikings finished the season with a 19-7 overall record, and they secured a bye in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.

After their short break, the Vikings began their Horizon League tournament play with a quarterfinal matchup against Northern Kentucky.

Sophomore Destiny Leo dribbles past a Northern Kentucky defender. Photo courtesy of Vikings Athletics

The Vikings opened the game strong, leading Northern Kentucky 18-6 after the first quarter. Cleveland State thrived on its early game momentum as it led its opponent by double digits for the majority of the game.

Leo led her team with 18 points as the Vikings defeated Northern Kentucky 59-51 to open postseason play. Cleveland State hopes to continue building momentum as they travel in Indianapolis, Indiana to face the same Green Bay team they lost to in the final game of the season in a semifinal match on March 7.