March 8, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Cleveland State rallied from a 12-point first-half deficit, taking its first lead midway through the second half and beat Wisconsin-Green Bay 73-67 in Saturday's semifinals of the Horizon League tournament Saturday.
The victory sets up a classic title game rematch between the third-seeded Vikings (24-10), the preseason conference favorite, and No. 22 Butler (26-4), the regular-season league champ. Butler beat Cleveland State 70-55 in last year's title game also played at Butler.
The Vikings were led by Norris Cole, who had 23 points, and J'Nathan Bullock with 16. Cedric Jackson's 3-pointer with 10:45 to go gave Cleveland State its first lead, 52-50, when he hit a 3-pointer. The Vikings never trailed again.
Wisconsin-Green Bay (22-10), seeded No. 2, was led by Ryan Tillema with 21 points and Mike Schachtner with 16.
Cleveland State closed the gap to 39-33 at halftime, then finally made its big push midway through the second half, and started pulling away after Jackson's 3.
The Phoenix were still within 58-57 with 6:28 to go, but the Vikings scored six straight points even though they did not make a basket during the final 6:09.
Green Bay closed the gap to 68-65 with 22.5 seconds left on Randy Berry's dunk, but Cleveland State made five of its last six free throws to close it out.
The Vikings were swept by Butler during the regular season, losing both games by two points.