CLEVELAND – Cleveland State freshman Bryn Forbes scored a game-high 14 points in his first start and the Vikings claimed a 60-50 win over visiting Illinois-Chicago to leave both teams with 1-1 records in Horizon League play.
The Vikings, 9-7 overall, were coming off a 74-50 thrashing at pre-season league favorite Valparaiso while the Flames had their way in a 65-60 win at home over Youngstown State in UIC’s previous outing.
“We were very good on the defensive end tonight,” said Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters, whose team ended a 5-game stretch against Division I opponents in which they scored fewer than 60 points on offense.
“We needed some scoring and Bryn gave us that tonight,” added Waters when speaking of the 6-3 freshman from Lansing, Michigan.
“We had three great practices after the Valpo game and something good has to come from such hard work,” he continued. And by going 19-for-45 for 42%, the win over UIC gave the Vikings their best shooting night against a Division I opponent since shooting .439 in an 80-63 setback to North Carolina State back on Dec. 8.
For the Flames, who fell behind 8-0 early before grabbing a brief 16-15 lead, it was a matter of not taking care of the basketball.
“Our seniors did not lead,” said UIC coach Howard Moore, whose team trailed 28-21 at intermission and saw the Vikings boost the lead to 44-28 with a 16-7 run behind a pair of 3-pointers from senior Tim Kamczyc.
“We have not played well on the road but we have been very good in not giving up turnovers against very aggressive defenses no matter where we have played. But tonight we were not very good at protecting the basketball. That was very disappointing. We have to get back to who we are and handle the ball better.”
The Flames turned the ball over thee times and had an offensive foul in their first four possessions in falling behind 8-0.
For the game, the Vikings forced the Flames into 18 turnovers and limited UIC to just two in double figure scoring as Josh Crittle and Gary Talton each tallied 10 points. UIC also had eight points each from Daniel Barnes, who began the game wearing No. 1 and changed to No. 15 later in the first half and Mark Brown.
The Vikings, who have a Wednesday game at Wright State in Fairborn, Raiders, led by as many as 16 on a number of occasions. The last time was at 43-27 on the second of two free throws from Forbes, who went 5-for-9 from the floor and was one of four CSU players with team high four rebounds.
Cleveland State also got 13 second half points and four rebounds from Kamczyc, who did not take a shot in the first 20 minutes and another 10 points, four boards and four steals from sophomore Sebastian Douglas. The other Viking with four boards was sophomore Devon Long, who had three points and three assists from his post position.
TheVikings also had seven points from freshman Junior Lomomba and six points and a game-high six assists from sophomore point guard Charlie Lee.
“I’m tired of hearing about Butler,” said Moore in the post game press conference, when asked about the Horizon League for this year. “Valparaiso and Detroit also represented the conference last year and this year, we have competitive balance and you will have exciting play every night from top to bottom.”
The Flames return home for a Wednesday meeting with Valparaiso before going back on the road on Saturday to Green Bay. UIC does not play consecutive home or road games until hosting Green Bay on Jan. 31 and Cleveland State on Feb. 2.
Cleveland State follows the Wednesday game at Wright State with a Saturday afternoon game with Detroit before heading to Wisconsin to play Jan. 17 at Milwaukee and Jan. 19 at Green Bay.