College Basketball, CSU Vikings

Ohio Bobcats drop Cleveland State to 2-7

The Cleveland State Vikings’ rough season continued Saturday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena, as they fell to the visiting Ohio Bobcats, 76-67. Cleveland State sank 10-of-21 three-pointers, by far their most accurate long-range shooting performance of the season, with guards Rob Edwards and Andre Yates each scoring 17 points to lead the way. In the second half, however, Ohio took advantage of Viking miscues, crashed the offensive boards, dominated the paint, and departed with a comfortable victory.

A select few statistics tell the tale. Ohio outrebounded Cleveland State, 37-32, including 12 offensive rebounds. The rebounding disparity wasn’t huge, but the Bobcats made the most of their second chances to the tune of 15 second-chance points. Whether by attacking the glass or slicing into the lane, OU was able to make its living in the paint. The Bobcats scored 42 points in the paint to the Vikings’ 26.

Antonio Campbell, Ohio’s 6-foot-9, 260-pound barge of a forward, dominated inside. He scored a game-high 23 points (10-of-15 shooting) and grabbed 10 rebounds, five on the offensive end. Cleveland State simply didn’t have the necessary size to slow him down, as neither Demonte Flannigan nor Vinny Zollo could contend with Campbell’s bulk. The one Viking in Campbell’s weight class, Aaron Scales, played just six minutes.

CSU defended OU well for stretches, but did themselves no favors by turning the ball over. The Vikings committed 15 turnovers which turned into 16 Bobcat points. According to the stat sheet OU had just four fast break points, but it certainly felt like more. Cleveland State has developed a nasty habit of getting beaten downcourt after made baskets, which benefits no one except for the makers of Gary Waters’ blood pressure medication.

Sophomore swingman Terrell Hales drew the task of guarding OU point guard Jaaron Simmons, who entered the game averaging 16.1 points and 7.9 assists per game. Simmons made all five of his first-half shots en route to 11 points, but Hales did reasonably well denying him the ball and making him work. Simmons finished with 13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 6 turnovers.

For much of the game, fans were treated to unusually positive, fluid basketball. Ohio sagged deep into the lane, daring the Vikings to shoot, and CSU was actually able to do so. Freshman guard Rob Edwards made two three-balls in the first half, with Andre Yates, Jibri Blount, Daniel Levitt, and Myles Hamilton each adding one. Cleveland State opened the game with incisive ball movement and led by as much as nine points midway through the opening half. Edwards was the engine, controlling the game with his scoring, passing, driving, and all-around sense of the action. Yates was aggressive and effective as well, making 8-of-15 shots.

The most exciting stretch of the first half came when the two sides combined for five threes in less than two minutes. Jibri Blount hit one from the top of the key to give CSU a 23-17 lead. OU’s Gavin Block answered to cut the lead to three, with Jordan Dartis tying the game a possession later. Daniel Levitt put the Vikings back on top, only for OU’s Wadly Mompremier (WHAT A NAME!) to pull the Bobcats level again. CSU and OU combined to shoot 10-of-23 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Lack of consistency was again the story of the game, as Cleveland State couldn’t maintain the requisite focus or sharpness to hang with Ohio in the second half. The Vikings will often be outclassed this season, so they’ll need to be at or close to their best in order to get wins. Such a game was not in the cards Saturday, and CSU has now dropped five in a row.

“I’ve never been here before,” Gary Waters said of losing five straight games. “Why don’t we turn it around and get five wins, that would help the process. But the biggest thing is finding something [we’re doing] consistently well.”

Other notes

  • Both Demonte Flannigan and Vinny Zollo had awful games. Flannigan finished with six points (2-of-8 shooting) and two rebounds in 16 minutes, while Zollo had two points (1-of-8 shooting) and eight rebounds in 21 minutes. Cleveland State is generally undersized, and they’ll have a hard time surviving with their starting forwards playing poorly.
  • Tim Hasbargen, a walk-on from Munich, saw his most extensive action of his career since a win over Tiffin last year. The German scored nine points and had four rebounds in 13 minutes.
  • Jibri Blount provided a nice spark off the bench, scoring eight points on 3-of-4 shooting in 17 minutes.

Cleveland State’s next game is Wednesday, Dec. 16 at Loyola (IL)