CANCUN, Mexico – Cleveland State used a strong defensive effort and made 23 free throws to claim a 57-52 win over Rider in the first game of the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday afternoon at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
The Vikings improved to 2-2 with the win, while Rider slipped to 0-4.
Rob Edwards led the Vikings with 17 points and three assists, while Andre Yates added 13 points and three rebounds. Daniel Levitt came off the bench to score 11 points and Demonte Flannigan chipped in five points and six rebounds.
Jimmie Taylor led Rider with 12 points.
"Our kids came out with good attitudes today and played hard," head coach Gary Waters said. "I told them they had to forget about that last game and come out today and compete and they responded to that challenge."
The Vikings took their first lead of the season at halftime this year, taking a 28-22 advantage into the locker room. A jumper by Edwards extended CSU's lead to nine points (32-23), but a 13-2 run by Rider gave them a 36-34 lead midway through the second half.
Jeron Rogers hit a free throw with 7:18 to play tie to the contest at 43-43 and after a Rider free throw, Edwards hit a jumper and found Levitt in the corner for a transition three that gave CSU a 48-44 lead with 5:34 to play. CSU extended the lead to five points (53-48) with 2:13 to play on a Flannigan free throw, but back-to-back baskets from Rider sliced the lead to one (53-52) with just over one minute left.
Edwards split a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left to push the lead back to two points (54-52) and after a Rider miss, Flannigan was fouled after grabbing the rebound and knocked down two free throws to put CSU ahead, 56-52.
Derek Sloan stole the ensuing inbounds pass and Edwards hit a free throw to ice the game with eight seconds to play.
The Vikings finished 23-of-32 at the free throw line and out-rebounded Rider, 33-27. CSU also forced 19 turnovers, turning them into nine points.
The Vikings will play their final game in Cancun on Wednesday afternoon at 3:00 pm against South Dakota State.