Vikings split versus Panthers and Phoenix before hitting the road

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The Cleveland State Vikings head into the new week amidst a massive logjam in the Horizon League standings. Currently at 4-2, the Vikings sit tied for third place in the conference along with Oakland Youngstown State. Despite a recent 1-1 weekend in home matchups against Milwaukee and Green Bay, CSU is still is terrific position to compete for the regular season crown as the conference slate wears on.

CSU’s first home conference loss of the season came at the hands of the upstart Milwaukee Panthers in a 68-64 overtime thriller. Heading into the ballgame, the Vikings made an alteration to their starting lineup, inserting Jayson Woodrich for Yahel Hill to help provide the team with even more size. Despite the change, the Vikings still allowed a critical offensive rebound which led to the game tying three pointer just before the conclusion of regulation. The Panthers went on to outscore the Vikings 12-8 in the extra session to obtain the critical victory.

With the addition of Woodrich to the starting lineup, the Vikings are looking to correct some of their rebounding woes, which have been a constant for a majority of the season. The Beachwood High School graduate grabbed ten rebounds against the Panthers, giving the Vikings a lift. Despite the outcome, CSU did receive contributions from Tristan Enaruna and Tae Williams, who scored 16 and 13 points on the night respectively. Milwaukee and CSU are two of the premier defensive teams in the Horizon League; something that will give both squads an excellent chance at competing for a title come tournament time.

The Vikings followed up their thrilling defeat to Milwaukee with an efficient offensive performance against the Green Bay Phoenix. Despite a disappointing day on the defensive end, CSU came away with a 82-77 win to wrap up their brief home stand. Tristan Enaruna and Drew Lowder carried the Vikings, as the two transfers combined for 41 of the team’s 82 points on the day. The Phoenix were able to keep things close with a masterful performance from behind the three point arc, as they shot 11-24 as a team.

As the season continues on, the Vikings will need someone to shoulder a larger offensive load on a nightly basis when shots are not falling collectively. That player so far in conference play has been Tristan Enaruna, who has shown the ability to be a multi level scorer for CSU in his brief time thus far with Cleveland State. The former Kansas Jayhawk and Iowa State Cyclone came to CSU with Daniyal Robinson, and has flourished so far as a centerpiece of the ball club. Enaruna is averaging nearly 13 points per game, but has seen an uptick in scoring the last few games. Look for Enaruna to continue his stellar play as the Vikings are a team that wants to grind out games defensively, in part with players with size like Tristan Enaruna.

Up next for the Vikings, a five game road trip that will help determine where the Vikings stand in league play as we head into February. First up will be contests at IUPUI and conference title hopeful Purdue Fort Wayne this upcoming Saturday and Monday.

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