Fresh off their first win of the season against Division II Malone University, the Cleveland State Vikings fell Saturday night to the Rams of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI. While the game didn’t take place in Mexico, it was the Vikings’ first of the Cancun Challenge tournament. Their next game will be in Cancun against Rider Tuesday afternoon.
Your faithful reporter was not in attendance — we couldn’t get all the paperwork in order with our travel department; fingers crossed for a trip to Mexico — nor was I able to watch it on the telly, so I lean on the reports of the Associated Press and CSU’s athletics department to explain how it went down in Rhode Island.
First, from the AP:
Hassan Martin scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting to lead a balanced and hot-shooting Rhode Island over Cleveland State 73-45 Saturday night.
Following Martin, Kuran Iverson added 15 points, Jared Terrell 14 and Jarvis Garrett 13 for the Rams (2-1) who never trailed in the game, leading by 20 (39-19) at halftime. Rhode Island shot 63 percent from the floor (26-41), and outrebounded Cleveland State 37-26. Iverson set career-bests in points and rebounds (8).
The dominance showed as Rhode Island doubled the Vikings on points in the paint, 36-18, outscored Cleveland State 24-14 on points off turnovers and 12-7 on the fast break.
Rob Edwards led Cleveland State (1-2), which shot just 27 percent, with 16 points.
Cleveland State began a four-game stretch in the Cancun Challenge with a 73-45 setback at Rhode Island on Saturday night.
The Vikings fell to 1-2 with the loss, while the Rams improved to 2-1.
Rob Edwards, who was making his first career start, scored 16 points and added five rebounds and three steals. Kenny Carpenter tallied nine points and two rebounds, while Jibri Blount added five points, two rebounds and two assists. Jeron Rogers scored five points.
The Viking defense forced 23 URI turnovers and also had 11 steals.
Rhode Island had four players in double figures, led by 16 points from Hassan Martin. Kuran Iverson added 15 points and eight rebounds, while Jared Terrell scored 14 points and Jarvis Garrett added 13.
Rhode Island raced out to a 9-2 lead less than four minutes into the game, but the Vikings managed to pull within four (11-7) at the 12:36 mark. After the teams traded baskets to keep the URI lead at four points, the Rams used a 20-7 run to open up a 17-point lead (33-16) with just under four minutes to play in the first half.
The Rams hit 14-of-20 (.700) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and 10-of-14 from the free throw line. URI finished the game shooting .634 (26-41) from the field and held a 37-26 advantage on the glass.
It’s a disappointing result for Cleveland State, if not a wholly shocking one. Rhode Island finished 23-10 last season and returned two of their top three leading scorers from last year’s club — they’re a solid team. After playing well against Malone, Demonte Flannigan and Vinny Zollo struggled mightily, combining for six points on 1-of-15 shooting. They weren’t alone. Only Rob Edwards (6-of-12), sophomore guard Kenny Carpenter (3-of-6) and freshman Jeron Rogers (2-of-4) hit at least half of their shots for the Vikings. No other CSU player made more than one field goal.
“Our nemesis right now is our offense,” head coach Gary Waters said after the Malone game. “We’re trying to find out who’s gonna do what.” The search continues.
If you’re looking for silver linings, Rob Edwards’ performance is encouraging. The Detroit Cass Tech product is a strongly built 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. He has done well getting into the lane in his young college career. The next step for him will be learning how to slow down and probe the defense to find the best chances both for himself and his teammates.