GREEN BAY, Wis. – Despite holding a lead late in the second half, the Cleveland State men's basketball team dropped a heartbreaker at Green Bay Saturday afternoon, falling to the Phoenix 90-89.
After the first two weeks of Horizon League play, the Vikings now stand at 5-12 overall this season and 0-4 in league play.
Once again the Cleveland State offense was led by Tyree Appleby who posted a team-high 27 points, marking his seventh 20-point game of the year.
As a team, the Vikings recorded 13 three-pointers on the day, including five from Rashad Williams, marking the third time this season that he has tallied five or more three-pointers in a single game. Ten of Cleveland State's 13 three-pointers came during the second half, as the Vikings shot 76-percent from behind-the-arc during the final 20 minutes of play.
On the boards, Cleveland State held a 44-36 advantage over the Phoenix, with 10 rebounds from Johnson, marking a season-high for the freshman. Seth Millner collected eight boards for the Vikings, while Dontel Highsmith added five.
From the field, the Vikings shot 43-percent, including a .514 clip during the second half.
Cleveland State was able to control play throughout the opening minutes of the contest, as they got out to a four-point lead at 16-12 on a Stefan Kenic three-pointer, but a quick 5-0 run from Green Bay put the Phoenix back on top at 17-16. The two teams then traded baskets over the next few possessions, until a 6-3 Green Bay run late in the period put the Phoenix up by seven, 39-32, heading into the halftime break.
Green Bay was able to remain in control of the contest throughout the opening minutes of the half, but the Vikings slowly worked their way back into the game, posting a 14-2 run over a span of 4:35, to regain a two-point lead at 47-45 on a Rashad Williams three-pointer.
The two teams once again traded baskets over the next few minutes, until 13 straight points from the Vikings gave Cleveland State a 71-56 advantage with 7:38 left to play. The Vikings were able to hold on to the double-digit lead over the next three minutes, until a 10-2 run from Green Bay closed the gap to nine points at 84-75 with just under four minutes left on the clock.
Despite Cleveland State regaining a double-digit lead with a pair of free throws from Tyree Appleby less than 30 seconds later, the Phoenix responded with another 13-0 run over the next 1:53 to regain a two-point lead at 88-86.
After a key Jaalam Hill defensive rebound on Green Bay's next possession, Williams was able to convert his fifth three-pointer of the game with just eight seconds remaining, putting Cleveland State back on top at 89-88.
Following a Green Bay timeout after the made three-pointer, the Phoenix were able to travel the length of the court and convert their final jumper from the floor to steal the 90-89 victory.
The Vikings will continue their four-game roadswing next week, traveling to IUPUI on Thursday, January 10 and UIC on Saturday, January 12.