The last thing on the mind of Cleveland State men’s basketball coach Gary Waters was the chances of the Vikings hosting a first round Horizon League tournament game after his team had a horrible offensive night in a 50-41 loss to Wright State in the home finale on Wednesday night at the Wolstein Center.
“Really?” asked Waters, after being told a loss by Illinois-Chicago to Milwaukee allowed that possiblilty to remain after the Vikings matched their worst offensive night in the seven seasons Waters has coached at Cleveland State.
Shooting just 26% on 19-of-61, the Vikings collected 20 offensive rebounds to keep CSU in this one that ended with an equally struggling Wright State pulling away when the Raiders scored on five straight possessions in the final minutes for the win, despite a 16-for-39 night from the field.
The Raiders, who moved into a tie for third with Green Bay at 9-5 in the league and 18-9 overall with the win, had their own problems scoring. After Matt Vest, who led the Raiders with 12 points, scored on a dunk with 16:19 left for a 31-28 lead, Wright State did not score another field goal until the 7:44 mark when Kendall Griffin hit a lay up for a 36-33 lead.
That kicked off a 5-possession run of points for the Raiders, who got a pair of 3-pointers from Vest along with a 3-pointer and lay up from A.J. Pacher for a 47-37 Wright State lead that put this one away for the visitors. The loss dropped Cleveland State to 9-5 at home and 5-10 in league play to go with a 13-16 overall mark.
Those home tournament hopes for the Vikings remain as UIC (6-8) plays home to Wright State and Detroit to conclude the season while Cleveland State has just a road game at Loyola left. Should UIC lose both those league games and Cleveland State beat Loyola. the Vikings get sixth place at 7-10 on a tie breaker.
The top two teams get a double by while the team that finishes in third place, currently held by both Wright State and Green Bay, advances to the second round with a single bye. Teams 4-5-6 host first round games against teams that finish 7-8-9.
“We still want to avoid going on the road and we still have a team goal of playing on March 12,” said Waters. That is where March 12 comes to play as the date of the Horizon League championship game to be played at the home of the top remaining seed.
The 41 points posted matched the low water mark under a Waters team at CSU. The Vikings were handed a 59-41 loss to Valparaiso on Feb. 9, 2012. What prevented the Vikings from scoring fewer than 40 points was a 3-pointer and a free throw to complete a 4-point play by freshman Bryn Forbes with just 2:08 left.
Charlie Lee, who led the Vikings with 12 points, was just 4-of-15 from the field while Forbes was limited to just 2-of-12 on the way to six points. Junior Devon Long was behind Lee with 10 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-5 from the line where the Vikings were 5-of-10 as a team.
The last time a CSU team failed to score at least 40 points was Feb. 5, 1998 when the Vikings lost a 66-39 decision to Green Bay under head coach Rollie Massimino in a season that saw the team finish 12-15.
You have to go back to Feb. 7, 1971 to find another game in which the Vikings did not score 40 points. On that date, the Vikings, playing for Ray Dieringer, lost a 44-38 decision to Ashland.
Prior to the game with Wright State, the Vikings honored their lone senior, Tim Kamczyc, a fifth year senior, who is among the career leaders in games played. Kamczyc, who was limited to five points on just 2-of-8 from the floor.
Kamczyc is third in career starts (103) and games played (131). He has already received his undergraduate degree and will receive his MBA this spring. He moved past former Viking Norris Cole, now with the Miami Heat, having played in 131 straight games and trails only Jeremy Montgomery (139) in that category.