Cleveland State saw its six game winning streak come to an end Thursday night in Green Bay, dropping a 59-50 decision at the hands of the UW-Green Bay Phoenix.
It was a sloppy game on both sides, as the two teams committed 30 combined turnovers and shot 31-percent from the floor. CSU’s J’Nathan Bullock had a miserable night, finishing the game shooting just three-for-16.
It didn’t start so bad, as the Vikings came out strong and led for a good majority of the first half. After falling behind 13-12, CSU took control, leading by as many as seven points. Led by Breyohn Watson’s burst of seven points in three minutes, the Vikings took a five point lead into the locker room.
Weak perimeter defense, an old nemesis that hadn’t been heard from during the winning streak, returned to haunt CSU. The Vikings had trouble locating Green Bay shooters all night, which makes the low shooting percentage for the Phoenix a bit deceiving. Green Bay’s first half shooting woes came despite several open looks from three-point land. In the second half, Green Bay rebounded to shoot 46-percent (10-22), including several timely daggers down the stretch.
In addition to the holes in the perimeter defense, the Vikings also struggled from the free-throw line. The Vikings shot .579 from the line (11-19), including six-of-12 during the final four minutes.
The missed opportunities proved to be too much down the stretch, as the Vikings saw a tightly contested ball-game, one that featured ten ties, turn into a nine point loss. The defeat dropped CSU to 14-6, 7-1, still a half game ahead of 7-2 Butler in the Horizon League standings.
Cedric Jackson turned in another spectacular performance in the loss. Jackson led the Vikings with 19 points and added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Bullock led the team with ten rebounds and Chris Moore turned in a solid performance with seven points on three-of-four shooting with seven rebounds and three blocks in only 17 minutes of play.
The Vikings don’t have to wait long to get an opportunity to right the ship. Continuing the Wisconsin road trip, CSU faces UW-Milwaukee Saturday night. The Panthers enter the contest third in the Horizon League at 6-3 after winning eight of its last nine games. The wining surge came after Milwaukee started the season 3-7, including a six game losing streak.
The Vikings will look to pressure Milwaukee while keeping the tempo turned to high. The Panthers roster features only nine scholarship players after the dismissal of five players throughout the season.
The key to the game will be stopping Milwaukee forward Paige Paulson. The 6’7” senior leads the Panthers in scoring, averaging 15.4 ppg while shooting .477 (53-111) from beyond the arc. After Paulson there’s a drop-off in outside shooting for Milwaukee. The next best weapon from the outside is Ricky Franklin. The junior guard shoots .337 (30-89) from three while averaging 9.5 points per game.