CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland State rallied from an 18-point second half deficit, but Milwaukee used a strong performance from three-point to hold off the Vikings, 65-62, on Saturday afternoon in the Wolstein Center.
The Vikings fell to 5-12 overall and 0-4 in the Horizon League, while Milwaukee improved to 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the League.
Andre Yates led the Vikings with 15 points and four assists, while Demonte Flannigan notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Rob Edwards scored 14 points with four rebounds and Jibri Blount finished with nine points and four rebounds.
Austin Arians scored 13 points to lead the Panthers, while J.J. Panoske scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Panthers opened up their largest lead of the game (53-35) on a Matt Tiby three-pointer less than six minutes into the second half. But the Vikings slowly began to chip away at the lead, using a 21-7 run over the next nine minutes to close the gap to four points (60-56) on a Flannigan jumper with 5:21 to play.
The teams continued to trade baskets until a pair of free throws from Edwards sliced CSU's deficit to three points (63-60) with 36 seconds to play. Edwards hit two more free throws after a pair by Jordan Johnson to keep the UWM lead at three and after JayQuan McCloud missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Vikings had one final chance, but were unable to get a shot off before the final horn.
"I thought our guys came out and competed today," head coach Gary Waters said. "We easily could have folded with how well they shot it today. I've always told our team if you make at least 12 three's, you are going to win and that's what they did today.
"We kept the score where we needed it to be and I have to commend the guys for fighting back. We kept telling them to get the lead under 10 and they did that."
Milwaukee hit seven three-pointers over the first 10:30 of the game and raced out to a 27-13 lead. CSU answered with a 10-2 run – capped by a pair of Carpenter baskets – to close within six points (29-23), but the Panthers used three-pointers from Matt Tiby and JayQuan McCloud and a bucket from Akeem Springs to push the lead back to 14 points (37-23) with 3:16 left in the half.
The Panther lead was 39-27 at halftime.
Milwaukee finished 12-of-25 from three-point and committed just five turnovers. CSU made just seven turnovers and shot .519 (27-52) for the game. The Vikings also held a 29-21 advantage on the boards.
The Vikings return to action on Thursday (Jan. 14) when CSU plays at Wright State at 7:00 pm.