Vikings Drop League Opener at Green Bay, 66-55

Marlin Mason had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Marlin Mason had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Anton Grady and Marlin Mason both had double-doubles, but a strong second half by Green Bay helped the Phoenix claim a 66-55 victory over Cleveland State in the Horizon League opener for both teams on Thursday night at the Resch Center.

The Vikings fell to 8-7 this year, while the Phoenix improved to 10-3 overall.

Opening on the road in league play for the fifth straight year, the Vikings received 11 points and 10 rebounds from Mason, while Grady totaled 10 points and 10 boards. Trey Lewis scored 11 points with four assists, while Charlie Lee added eight points and four assists before fouling out late.

Alec Brown led three Phoenix players in double figures with 17 points, while Keifer Sykes and Jordan Fouse scored 15 apiece.

CSU was playing without sixth man Jon Harris who missed the game with a concussion.

The Phoenix took an early 10-6 lead, but CSU answered with 10 straight points, including six straight by Douglas, to assume a 16-10 lead with 9:07 left in the half. Green Bay's Alec Brown scored on a layup to bring the Phoenix back within 16-12, ending a six-plus minute scoring drought for the Phoenix.

Green Bay would pull back within a point (20-19) with just over six minutes left, but CSU rattled off five straight points to regain a six point lead (25-19) on a three-pointer and two free throws by Forbes.

The Viking defense once again clamped down on the Phoenix over the final six minutes of the first half, giving up just four points to take a 29-23 lead into the locker room.

But the Phoenix opened the second half on a 21-9 run over the first seven minutes to take a four point advantage (42-38) on a Fouse layup. Green Bay was able to work their way into the bonus less than four minutes into the half and the double bonus with 11 minutes left, shooting 16-of-21 from the charity stripe in the second half.

The Vikings got back within one (43-42) on a jumper by Mason, but five straight from the Phoenix helped them open up a six point lead (48-42) with just under nine minutes to play. The lead would grow nine with 3:31 left, but Mason answered with a three-pointer to bring CSU within six with two minutes left.

However, Fouse would find Sykes on a backdoor cut for a dunk with 1:26 left as the lead grew back to eight (60-52).

The Vikings shot just 23-of-58 (.397) from the floor and 3-of-21 (.143) from three-point. Green Bay shot .550 (22-40) from the field, including 12-of-19 (.632) in the second half. 

CSU won the rebounding battle, 35-26, while Green Bay blocked eight shots.

The Vikings conclude their swing through Wisconsin and continue Horizon League play on Saturday (Jan. 4) with an 8:00 p.m. EST contest at Milwaukee.