Cleveland State’s season was put on a temporary pause following a slugfest overtime loss versus Oklahoma State from the Big 12 conference due to COVID-19 issues within their program. Multiple players tested positive for the virus forcing the temporary shutdown. This is unfortunate news for a team that was playing extremely efficiently on the offensive end and was looking forward to a road clash against one of the top teams in the country, Duke. While the Vikings would have been underdogs headed into Cameron Indoor Stadium, it would have been a highlight of the season for the entire team to compete against Coach K’s group in his final season.
Right before the pause, the Vikings were able to do battle with Oklahoma State in Stillwater in what turned out to be perhaps the most exciting game of the season so far for the Vikings, despite the undesired outcome. While the Vikings took the loss 98-93 in overtime, they played with no fear against a “power five” conference school in their gym. This is something that CSU fans should have expected with the senior leadership on the team. Dennis Gates’ group should be very proud of their effort against the Cowboys despite the unfortunate final few possessions of overtime.
D’Moi Hodge had undoubtedly his most complete game of the season so far, after an up and down start shooting the basketball. The senior finished with 31 points on 50% shooting, in addition to two steals. Hodge converted on multiple three pointers in crucial moments when the Vikings absolutely needed points. Despite the masterful performance, Hodge took a quick three pointer off of a time out in the waining seconds of overtime before allowing the designed play to develop. Perhaps a better look could have been had if Hodge let the screener make the pick. All things considered, this was a terrific learning experience for a team that should continue to remain one of the premier teams in the Horizon League.
Another Viking who had a terrific performance versus the Cowboys was Broc Finstuen. Having played against Gonzaga multiple times throughout his time at Pacific, Finstuen is no stranger to the big stage and he delivered for Dennis Gates in a huge way. The guard led the Vikings in rebounds with ten, and in steals with three. The transfer also amassed 19 points, good enough for second on the team. Perhaps most impressively, Finstuen shot 7-9 from the field, as he was able to score as both a cutter and permitter shooter, two things he does extremely efficiently.
Tre Gomillion battled foul trouble for some of the game, and had he not he could have come very close to attaining a triple double. The senior finished with six points, eight rebounds, and six assists, as he played a very complete game on both sides of the ball. While there were a few situations where he fouled that he would like to have back, Gomillion’s tenacity and hustle are two of the traits that make him as good of a player as he is.
One final Viking that deserves recognition for his performance as of late is reserve big man Anderson Mirambeax. Despite being infrequently used so far this season, the big man has made multiple plays the last few times his number has been called. Against the Cowboys, the junior college transfer was utilized as a passer from the high post on back to back possessions, both of which resulted in assists for Mirambeaux. While Deante Johnson is surely the centerpiece for the Vikings down low, Mirambeaux could see more minutes coming up as his back to the basket post game gives the Vikings something they do not have with the big men on their roster.
While the next step for the Vikings is to get everyone who has the virus healthy, they can now look ahead to resuming conference play on December 30th when CSU will travel to IUPUI, followed by a New Years Day battle with UIC in Chicago. The Vikings will return home on January 5th to face Purdue Fort Wayne before hitting the road for a pair of games.