Nov. 19, 2006
Contact: Brian McCann
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Gary Waters called it.
Moments after the Vikings dropped a disappointing 63-49 decision on Saturday to Evansville, Waters told the CSU team in the locker room that they were going to come back on Sunday and post, "the upset of the season" against Miami (Fla.).
The Vikings (2-3) took the prediction to heart, turning in their best all-around performance of the young season in claiming a 78-67 win over the ACC Hurricanes.
"We won today because we did the things that you need to do to be successful," Waters said. "We took care of the ball and made some shots on offense and played some solid interior defense.
"We have learned a lot about ourselves over the last two weeks and we are getting better defending in the post better," Waters said of his under-sized Vikings.
J'Nathan Bullock led four Vikings in double-figures with 19 points and seven rebounds while Victor Morris added 17 points, Carlos English 15 and Joe Davis 11. Eleven of English's 15 came in the first half.
Jack McClinton led Miami with 20 points while Anthony Harris added 12.
The Cleveland State offense was never better this season as the Vikings patiently worked the ball around the perimeter until they found an opening. Just one day after the Vikings shot just 4-of-25 from three-point range against Evansville, CSU drilled 11-of-23 from long range against the Hurricanes.
The Vikings committed just nine turnovers in the contest, the lowest total in over three seasons, and had 17 assists on 22 baskets. English, Morris and Moss led the way with four assists each.
Defensively, CSU forced 14 turnovers, made six steals and five players combined to block six Hurricane shots. The Vikings, despite being considerably outsized in the paint, had a slim 33-32 rebounding edge.
It looked like Miami was going to put the game away early as the Hurricanes went inside on their first three possessions for lay-ups, building an 8-1 advantage just 2:41 into the contest.
But the rest of the half belonged to CSU. The Vikings used a patient half-court offense and a strong man-to-man defense to take the lead for the first time (12-10) on a Morris three-pointer with 15:06 left.
Another basket by Morris and a lay-up by Joe Davis extended the lead to 16-10 with 13:12 left.
Miami would fight back and tie the game at 20-20 on a McClinton three-pointer with 9:46 left, but CSU answered with nine straight points.
Kevin Francis began the run with a tip-in of a missed Renard Fields shot and Bullock followed with a three-pointer from the right wing. Morris closed the spurt with back-to-back 18-foot jumpers, the last pushing the CSU lead to 29-20 with 5:38 left.
The lead would blossom to as many as 10 (35-25, 2:00) on a pair of Bullock free throws, but Miami closed the half by scoring the last five points to close to within 35-30 at the break.
Morris played a near perfect first half, shooting a spotless 5-for-5 from the field, including making both of his three-point attempts for a dozen first half points.
The Vikings came out after the intermission and reasserted themselves. Raheem Moss buried a three-pointer on the opening possession and Bullock followed with basket in the lane to push the lead back into double figures, 40-30 just 56 seconds into the second half.
The rest of the game was like walking on ice. CSU never led by less than four points but also was not in a position to put the game away.
Miami pulled to within 51-47 with 9:17 left but Moss, who scored nine points on three-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc, answered with another trey.
Miami refused to quit, but the Vikings wouldn't give them an opening, scoring their final 14 points from the foul line over the last 4:31 to keep the Hurricanes from coming back.
"Free throw shooting was crucial this afternoon," Waters said. "When the game was on the line late, we made our free throws and didn't allow Miami a chance to get back into it."
The Vikings were 23-of-28 from the stripe in the contest (.821), including 19-of-22 in the second half (.864).
The Vikings continue their busy November schedule when they return home on Wednesday night (Nov. 22) to host John Carroll beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Wolstein Center.
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