Horizon League Tournament: Cleveland State Ousted By Butler 76-68

The Horizon League starts the process of crowning a champion on Tuesday as the conference tournament gets underway.

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Horizon League Tournament Results: Cleveland State Loses To Butler For Third Time This Season

The Cleveland State Vikings are done in the Horizon League Tournament, with only slim hopes remaining that they get an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament next Sunday.

For the third time this season, the Vikings lost to the Butler Bulldogs, this time on a neutral court 76-68. Cleveland State never could get over the hump in a game that Butler led wire-to-wire. Norris Cole scored 24 points to lead the Vikings, who shot just 41.5% from the field. The Vikings were really done in by their poor 3-point shooting – 3-14, 21.4% – which has been the case during most of their losses this season.

Butler shot the ball much better from the field – 47.2% from the field, and drilled 9-24 threes to get the win. Butler also dominated the glass, out-rebounding Cleveland State 37-25.

Four Butler starters were in double figures, led by guard Shawn Vanzant’s 18 points. Matt Howard had 14 points and 8 rebounds while Andrew smith added 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Bulldogs who improved to 22-9 on the season.

Cleveland State fell to 26-8 and will wait to see if there is more basketball to be played – be it in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

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Horizon League Tournament Schedule: Cleveland State Vikings Vs. Butler Bulldogs In Semifinals

The Cleveland State Vikings are halfway to their second NCAA Tournament birth in the past 3 years and will continue their quest tonight in the Horizon League Tournament Semifinals against old nemesis, #2-seed Butler Bulldogs.  The Bulldogs, of course, rode Cinderella's slipper all the way to the National Championship Game in 2010 before losing to Duke.  In 2009, it was Cleveland State and Butler in the Horizon League Championship, with the Vikings upsetting the Bulldogs on their home floor 57-54.

This season, however, it's been all Butler.  The Bulldogs swept Cleveland State this season and holds an all-time record of 29-7 against the Vikings.

Jeremy Montgomery scored a game-high 16 points, leading four players in double figures, as the Cleveland State Vikings recorded the 14-point win over the Wright State Raiders in the second round of the tourney on Friday afternoon. Norris Cole added 15 points and six rebounds for the third-seeded Vikings, followed by Trevon Harmon and Josh McCoy with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Cleveland State, which led by as many as 23 points late in the contest, held the Raiders to just 36.2 percent from the field and 6-of-20 behind the three- point line in the matchup. Even though he had a game below his own standards yesterday, Cole is still the player to watch for the Vikings as he leads them in scoring (21.5 ppg), assists (178) and steals (72) and is also first on the glass (6.0 rpg) as well. Obviously one player can't do it all for a team at this stage of the season, which is why Harmon (13.4 ppg) and Montgomery (12.2 ppg) are also crucial to the squad's success now.

The Bulldogs may not have the same talent on the roster as they did last season when they made their improbable run all the way to the final game of the year against Duke, but still the squad has plenty of quality performers who can get the job done. Butler, which has won at least 20 games now for the sixth straight season and 13th time in the last 15 campaigns overall, follows the lead of Matt Howard who paces the group with his 16.8 ppg and is also first on the unit with close to eight rebounds per game. Sounds like a typical big man of course, but what makes Howard so unique is that he is more than comfortable stretching the limits on offense and letting loose with the occasional three-pointer, which he is hitting at a 44.6 percent clip right now. Shelvin Mack checks in with 15.3 ppg and is responsible for 111 assists in an effort to get his teammates involved in the action.

Perhaps Cole was laying low yesterday in order to unleash his biggest and best effort against the Bulldogs tonight. Whatever the reason for his sub-par performance, expect to see him rise to the challenge this time around and give the Vikings a fighting chance.

The winner will face the winner of the other semifinal - Valparaiso and Milwaukee - in Tuesday Night's Championship game.

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Horizon League Tournament Results: Cleveland State Pulls Away From Wright State 73-59

The Cleveland St. Vikings(26-7) basketball team is halfway to a birth in the NCAA Tournament after beating the Wright St. Raiders(19-14) in the 2nd Round of the Horizon League Tournament 73-59.  Jeremy Montgomery scored 16 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Vikings.  Norris Cole scored 15 points to go with 6 rebounds while Trevon Harmon added 14 points in the win.

Wright St. was led by Vaughn Duggins' 12 points while Troy Tabler added 12 points and rebounds.

Cleveland St. jumped out early on the Raiders, taking a 16-6 lead midway through the first half.  Wright St. battled back to within 2 - 20-18 - with 6 minutes to go in the half, but the Vikings maintained the lead, extending the lead to 31-27 at halftime.

Wright St. kept the game close through much of the 2nd half, trailing by two points multiple times - 31-29, 41-39 and 44-42 until the Vikings used a 18-5 run to take a 62-47 lead with 6 minutes to go in the game.  Cleveland St. was able to hold on the rest of the way.

Cleveland St. shot 47.5% from the field, including 9-19 from three point range while holding Wright St. to just 36%.  The Vikings out-rebounded the Raiders 29-22 in the game as well.

CSU will take on the #2 seed Butler Bulldogs tomorrow with the winner playing in the Championship game on Tuesday night.

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Horizon League Tournament: Cleveland State To Face Wright State As Scene Shifts To Milwaukee

The Cleveland State Vikings have only themselves to blame for their tough road to a NCAA Tournament birth. They could have enjoyed a free ride all the way to the semi-finals of the Horizon League Tournament. Instead of playing two games for a chance to dance, CSU needs to win four.

The Vikings passed their first test on Tuesday night when they beat Illinois-Chicago 73-61 at the Wolstein Center. Things get tougher starting tonight when the Vikings take on the Wright State Raiders at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee.  

Cleveland State swept the season series from the Raiders for the first time since 1997-98. The Vikings beat Wright State 65-46 at the Wolstein Center on January 22, and followed it up at Wright State with a 74-72 triumph. The Vikings, the third seed in this year's event, took care of 10th-seeded Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday night with a 73-61 decision to advance. Cleveland State has won this tournament once before with a 57-54 victory over the Butler Bulldogs in 2009, but still the team has a record of only 10-14 in the event over the years.

As for the sixth-seeded Raiders, they took down seventh-seeded Green Bay three nights ago with a 60-50 triumph. Like the Vikings, Wright State has won the championship just once before with a victory over Butler in 2007, yet the Raiders are also under .500 in the event overall at 13-15.

This year the Vikings swept the season series for the first time since 1997-98 and because of that the teams are now knotted at 27-27 in the all-time series. The squads have met twice previously in tournament action with CSU posting a win in Chicago during the 1993-94 campaign and the Raiders returning the favor the following year in their own building.

The winner of this matchup advances to the semifinals on Saturday where they will contend against second-seeded Butler for the right to move onto the title game on Tuesday night.

Vaughn Duggins scored a game-high 22 points, leading four players in double figures, as the Wright State Raiders posted a double-digit win over the Green Bay Phoenix in the first round of this tournament on Tuesday night at the Nutter Center. Also scoring in double figures for the sixth-seeded Raiders were Armond Battle with 13, Cooper Land 11 and N'Gai Evans 10 points, even though the latter shot a mere 2-of-11 from the floor on the night. An all- conference performer this season for the Raiders, Duggins is averaging a hefty 18.2 ppg for the squad at the moment and has been a fixture at the free-throw line where he has converted 81.4 percent of his opportunities. Evans, who has made good on 78.4 percent of his chances at the charity stripe in his 29 appearances, checks in with 14.1 ppg, while Troy Tabler accounts for 10.9 ppg even through he is shooting just 35.9 percent from the floor for a team that is generating a mere 64.5 ppg.

Except for Tim Kamczyc who finished with just five points, every starter for the Vikings scored in double figures in the first round of the tournament against UIC, as Norris Cole took control with 26 points. Jeremy Montgomery tacked on 17 points, Trevon Harmon 13 and Aaron Pogue 10 points before the center picked up his fifth foul of the meeting. Defensively, the team held the Flames to just 36.7 percent shooting from the floor and forced the visitors into 19 turnovers, which exceeded the squad's total of 18 made field goals. Cole has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Vikings this season, leading the squad in scoring in each of the last four outings and six of the last seven on his way to putting up 21.8 ppg. Cole has thrived at the free-throw line where he has knocked down a staggering 200-of-237, the rest of the team converting a total of 329 free-throw chances. But more than just a scorer, Cole is also active on the glass (6.0 rpg) and is first on the team in both assists (174) and steals (69) so it is no wonder he was named the Horizon League Player of the Year.

Considering the season Cole has put together, there's no way he's going to allow the Vikings to bow out of this event before they've made a significant push towards the title game.

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Horizon League Tournament: Cleveland State Moves On After Win

Cleveland State was disappointed to be seeded third in the Horizon League Tournament after spending so much of the season in the driver’s seat. Now, with a first round BYE gone, the Vikings would have to win three games to get the League’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. That voyage started tonight with the 73-61 home win over Illinois-Chicago at the Wolstein Center.

Norris Cole scored 26 points for the Vikings, who broke a school record with 16 home wins on the season. Cleveland State raced to a 40-23 halftime lead and never looked back in moving to 25-7 on the season.

Up next, the Vikings will play No. 6 seed Wright State who defeated Green Bay 60-50 in their first round match.

In the other two Horizon League games, Detroit got past Loyola (IL) 90-69 while Valparaiso beat Youngstown State 80-71.

Cleveland State has defeated Wright State twice this season, beating them at home 65-46 on January 22, then winning the road rematch 74-72 on February 16.

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