CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State men's basketball team closed out its current three-game homestand Sunday evening, dropping a 73-61 contest to Detroit Mercy in the second Horizon League contest of the season. The Vikings now stand at 5-10 overall this year and 0-2 in league play.
Four Vikings finished in double-figures for the Vikings, led by Jaalam Hill with 13 points on a 6-for-8 performance from the floor. Rashad Williams added 11 points for the Vikings, while Tyree Appleby and Kasheem Thomas both chipped in 10 points.
As a team, the Vikings recorded 12 assists on the game, including five from Thomas.
Despite the Vikings recording the first basket of the game on a Stefan Kenic three-pointer, Detroit Mercy was able to quickly take control of the contest jumping out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half at the 13-3 mark.
"I was really pleased with how we bounced back defensively in this game, we put together a very good defensive effort and we are trying to become that defensive-minded team," head coach Dennis Felton said. "We knew that Detroit Mercy was another offensive-minded team, and we wanted them to struggle on that end of the court. Throughout the game I certainly thought that our defensive presence had a lot to do with that, but sometimes this game comes down to making or missing shots, and unfortunately we had one of those nights where we struggled to make shots."
The Titans were then able to hold the advantage for the rest of the first half, taking a 34-28 lead into the halftime break.
After trailing by as much as 18 points during the second half, the Vikings made a late push over the final eight minutes, as Cleveland State went on a 13-2 run to close the gap to just seven points at the 63-56 mark on an Appleby layup. During this stretch the Vikings got five points from Williams, as he converted a pair of free throws following a technical foul on the Detroit Mercy bench and posted a three-pointer – his third of the game.
Both teams traded baskets over the next few possessions then, as the Vikings were able to come within six points at 65-59 with just over one minute left on the clock, but that would be as close as the Vikings would get, as the Titans pulled away for the 73-61 victory.
"Tonight we learned that we are still a young team, and still capable of falling into a rut and losing our swag during the course of a game. I was pleased that for most of the game we were able to keep up our defensive intensity, and we didn't let that slip except for a little portion during the second half which is where they got away from us. As far as where we go, it's always a challenge to pull yourself up after some losses, the players themselves have to work on it, the coaches have to do everything we can to be positive with them, and just move forward."
Next up, the Vikings will begin a four-game Horizon League roadswing, traveling to Milwaukee for an 8:00 p.m. contest on Thursday, January 3.