Vikings Drop Season Opener to Florida A&M, 68-66

Vikings Drop Season Opener to Florida A&M, 68-66

Nov. 19, 2005

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Contact: Brian McCann

A three-pointer from sophomore Steve Gansey rimmed out as time expired as a furious Cleveland State comeback fell short in the Vikings' 68-66 loss to Florida A&M in their season opener on Saturday evening (Nov. 19) at the Wolstein Center.

"Most certainly this was a disappointing loss for us," third-year head coach Mike Garland said. "I'm proud of the way our young men did make an effort to come back and put us in a position to win the basketball game."

The game's final minutes proved to be an exchange of runs for both sides as the contest which featured 13 lead changes, ultimately came down to Gansey's final shot.

The Rattlers fired the first salvo as they went on a 10-0 over a 4:08 period to push a 53-52 CSU lead into a 62-53 FAMU advantage with 2:26 remaining. The Vikings answered with a comeback of their own as they connected on back-to-back-to-back triples courtesy of junior Raheem Moss and Gansey to trim the lead to 66-64 with 30 seconds remaining.

After a pair of free throws by Tony Tate pushed the advantage to 68-64, freshman Bahaadar Russell canned a jumper with 22 seconds left on the clock to cut the lead to two. This proved to be the game's final margin.

Tate led all scorers in the tilt with 25 points while Cleveland State was paced by a 16-point effort from junior Victor Morris. Joining Morris in double-figures for the Vikings was senior Frashon McGee and Moss with 11 points apiece, respectively.

Florida A&M fired at nearly 47 percent (.469) from the field for the evening while Cleveland State tickled the twines at a 38.7 percent clip. Rebounding was nearly even as the Vikings outrebounded the Rattlers by a 36-32 count.

The game began slowly for the Vikings as they were stymied by a strong interior defense by Florida A&M as it found itself trailing early as the Rattlers outscored the Vikings 12-6 over the first 4:36 of the affair.

Following the first media timeout, the Vikings stepped up their defensive efforts as CSU held the Rattlers scoreless over a span of 3:57 while forcing five FAMU turnovers. Three different Vikings collected steals during this span.

The Vikings displayed an aerial display to begin the contest as the squad connected on five three pointers before an interior basket by freshman J'Nathan Bullock with 10:11 remaining in the first half brought the Vikings to within one, 18-17.

Cleveland State then regained lead on a lay-up by Patrick Tatham with 9:21 remaining in the half.

Neither side gained more than a three point advantage the remainder of the half as a pair of free throws from McGee with 2.6 ticks left in the stanza sent both teams into the intermission all squared at 30.

The Rattlers outshot Cleveland State in the initial 20 minutes as Florida A&M connected on 46.4 percent of its attempts to a 32.4 percent shooting mark by the Vikings. CSU won the rebounding battle by a count of 20-18, including 9-4 on the offensive glass.

In the last meeting between the two schools (11/25/03), the two teams combined for 111 free throws and 82 fouls. Tonight, neither side found the line until the 1:30 mark in the first half when McGee went to the charity stripe. The two teams combined to finish the affair with 31 fouls and 34 free-throw attempts.

The Vikings will return to action on Tuesday (Nov. 22) when Cleveland State travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face defending national champion North Carolina beginning at 9:00 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.