CLEVELAND, Ohio – For just the second time in program history the Cleveland State women's basketball team stands at 3-0 in Horizon League play, following a 73-63 victory over Milwaukee Thursday evening. The Vikings, who are now 8-8 overall, were paced by junior Imani Gordon who notched her third straight double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Along with Gordon, CSU has two other players post double-digit points – Kiersten Green with 25 and Cori Coleman with 17. This trio accounted for 62 of Cleveland State's 73 points on the night. Adesuwa Aideyman added five points for the Vikings, while Khayla Livingston and Olivia Voskuhl each had three.
"This team is really showing that they have matured over the first part of the season and can now handle tough games down the stretch – as you can see with tonight's victory," head coach Kate Peterson Abiad said. "We came into this year knowing and remembering how our games came out against Milwaukee last year and we didn't want the same thing to happen again. Milwaukee definitely gives us a tough matchup on the defensive end, and we knew we were going to have to battle on the inside in order to come away with the victory. We hit some big free throws down the stretch and we stayed confident in the closing minutes, allowing us to play a complete game and get the win."
The Vikings got out a strong start during the opening half, controlling the game for all but 37 seconds, going into the halftime break with an eight-point lead, 36-28.
During the opening minutes of the second half, Cleveland State went on a 5-2 run extending their lead to double-digits for the fourth time at the 41-30 mark with 18:35 remaining. The Vikings were then able to hold at least a seven-point lead over the next 4:22 until Milwaukee posted a 7-0 run, closing the gap to just three points (52-49) with 11:49 left to play.
"We went through a period where we were having difficulty making stops, and on the other end of the court we had four consecutive possessions with a turnover," Peterson Abiad said. "Earlier in the game when we weren't getting stops we were still able to score, but when we stopped scoring it became much more evident that we were struggling on the defensive end. We were finally able to get our momentum back though with a three-pointer from Cori and from that point forward I could tell that we were going to be alright."
After being held scoreless for over three minutes, the Vikings were able to stop the Panther run with a Coleman three-pointer at the 10:37 mark, giving CSU a six point lead at 55-49. The three-pointer was Coleman's third of the game – marking her sixth game this season with three or more three-pointers.
Following Coleman's converted three-pointer, the Vikings tallied a 7-0 run, extending their lead to 62-49 with just under eight minutes left to play. The Panthers weren't done yet though, as they made another push with a 12-3 run over a four-minute span to pull within four points (65-61) with just 2:38 left on the clock.
Over the final 1:39 Cleveland State was able to outscore the Panthers 8-2, including an 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line, earning the 10-point victory. For the game, CSU was 26-for-35 from the free throw line, while Milwaukee was just 10-for-15.
For the third straight game the Vikings eclipsed the 40-rebound mark, and outrebounded their opponent – finishing tonight's game with 42 boards. Gordon had a team-high 10 rebounds, while Haley Schmitt grabbed eight and Livingston tallied five.
The Vikings will try to stay perfect in Horizon League play on Saturday (Jan. 18), hosting Green Bay at 2:00 p.m. The Phoenix enter Saturday's game standing at 8-7 overall and 1-2 in league play.