Coming off its worst loss of the season to South Florida on Monday, Cleveland State did not want to go into the holiday break with its first two-game losing streak of the season.
So the Vikings took care of business Thursday night, easily defeating Sam Houston State, 63-45, in front of 2,683 fans at the Wolstein Center.
The Vikings (11-2) were led by senior guards D'Aundray Brown with 12 points and Jeremy Montgomery with 11. Ten of the 11 Vikings who played in the game scored.
The Bearkats (4-8) only had one player in double-figures in sophomore guard DeMarcus Gatlin with 13.
"When you lose you start to doubt yourself and feel a little down," Montgomery said about the importance of bouncing back from Monday's 15-point loss to the Bulls. "Today we came out positive and came out with the victory."
CSU was able to get its defense back on track
On Monday, CSU's defense, which averages 19.1 turnovers per game, was only able to create 12 turnovers against the Bulls, who became the first school to score 70 points against the Vikings this season.
On Thursday, CSU created 23 turnovers against SHSU, which led to 27 points for the Vikings.
"One of our goals is to get 20-plus turnovers (a game)," said Brown. "We made that an emphasize today to reach that goal."
The Vikings also held the Bearkats to only 14 field goals made and 41.2 percent from the field.
"I wasn't overly concerned about our defense," CSU head coach Gary Waters said, whose defense ranks eighth in the nation in three-point defense (.254), 11th in steals (10.0), 15th in turnover margin (4.7) and 24th in scoring defense (57.3).
CSU shot only 39.6 percent from the field, but were able to take 19 more shots then the Bearkats. They also went 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from three-point distance.
The Vikings also got a spark from its bench which provided 25 points (They only scored 10 points against South Florida).
The bench got solid performances from freshmen guard Sebastian Douglas, freshmen forward Anton Grady, and sophomore forward Devon Long, who each contributed six points a piece. Freshman guard Charlie Lee also contributed five points.
SHSU kept the game close early as sophomore guard Aaron Harwell's three-pointer gave the Bearkats a 7-6 lead.
Two minutes later, CSU would take the lead for good on Grady's jumper that put the Vikings up 10-8.
A three-pointer from Montgomery would extend the lead to 21-13 with 8:38 left in the half.
The Vikings took a 37-25 lead at the half and started the second half on a 7-3 run to extend it to 44-28 with just over 16 minutes left.
CSU, which has had problems closing out games this season, never let the lead get down lower then 12 points the rest of the game.
The Vikings will get the holidays off to spend with their families and return to practice on Dec. 26. Their next game is at Toledo on Dec. 28.
Photo courtesy of Cleveland State athletics
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