Vikings Indianapolis-bound following OT win over Robert Morris

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In what was one of the most thrilling games of the season thus far, the Cleveland State Vikings were able to upend Robert Morris 75-70 in overtime to advance to Indianapolis and the Horizon League Semifinals. The Vikings faced immense adversity throughout as the Colonials maintained a 12 point lead well into the second half, but CSU would not go away as they refused to let their season end at The Wolstein Center in front of an impressive crowd.

Statistically for the Vikings, they were led by first team all league honoree Tristan Enaruna who poured in 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds, in addition to his usual stellar work on the defensive end where he recorded a pair of steals and three blocked shots. To advance deep in postseason play, teams will need to rely on their go to players heavily as rotations get cut down. Enaruna has not only established himself as the go to guy for the Vikings, but he has quickly become one of the premier players in the Horizon League through his versatility on both the offensive and defensive end. Deante Johnson was also spectacular for the Vikings in his last career game inside The Wolstein Center as he pitched in with 15 points of his own.

When looking back to the preseason, the expectations for this year’s Vikings team were somewhat unknown. With a first year head coach and the departure of a majority of the team’s scoring from the last two seasons, many around the Horizon League did not give Cleveland State much of a chance at success this year. However, the Vikings were able to turn many of those doubters into believers with a stellar season in league play. Following the opening night loss to Division II Notre Dame College, the Vikings did not panic whatsoever as the coaching staff and veterans were able to keep a singular focus on getting better each day.

When asked about his first season as a whole and how the team rallied together to get the best out of one another, Coach Daniyal Robinson explained, “You want your team to max out, and I feel like these guys have maxed out. Having the ability to take what we do everyday in practice and do it on the court…that’s what this thing is about.”

Another impressive aspect of this Cleveland State team is how the team came together both on the floor and off of it, as with as many new faces as the Vikings had this season, that process can be a lengthy one for any given team. When asked about his team gelling on and off the court, Robinson said, “We knew we weren’t gonna be a finished product at the start of the year. We knew it was gonna be a team to grow on. I give our guys credit for buying into our core values…our core values are on display on the court, and every day when they’re in the classroom and in the community. The character of our group shows up and that’s why the cohesion is there.”

Up next for the Vikings, their third date of the season with Milwaukee, a team that is 2-0 against Cleveland State this season. CSU will certainly be anxious to get another shot at a Panthers team that spoiled Cleveland State’s regular season title hopes in the season finale. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 pm on Monday night for the right to head to the championship game on Tuesday.

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