Vikings struggle in Wisconsin snow, fall to eighth in conference

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While the Cleveland State Vikings have a home winning streak that dates back to the middle of last season, their inability to close out games on the road has resulted in a 2-8 record away from The Wolstein Center this season. Despite having second half leads in both road contests over the weekend, the Vikings fell to both Milwaukee and Green Bay, to fall to 4-4 in Horizon League play.

Sustaining the level to which Cleveland State holds themselves has been a challenge away from home, most notably on the defensive end. While rebounding has been a difficulty at times despite ranking first in the league in offensive rebounds as a team heading into the Wisconsin trip, the Vikings inability to close possessions with a defensive rebound hurt them immensely in Milwaukee and Green Bay. With Cleveland State’s bench rotation featuring all guards due to injury, there is pressure on the entire roster to do a better job of team rebounding than they did in both games over the weekend.

Additionally, the Vikings showed a lack of resiliency in both second halves over the weekend, as they were unable to counter late runs from both Milwaukee and Green Bay. Against the Panthers, the Vikings were decimated in the second half after holding a 19 point lead earlier in the contest en route to an 88-80 defeat. One of the lone bright sports was Tevin Smith who had a season high 20 points off the bench.

In the weekend finale against Green Bay, the Vikings offense collapsed at an inopportune time late in the contest, as they fell once again 79-71. Late game execution was not the only issue however, as Cleveland State’s bench only combined for four points versus the league’s first ranked scoring defense. While a lack of in game resilience was shown by the Vikings this past weekend, they can find comfort in returning home to Cleveland for three straight home games to close out January.

To get over the hump in the log jam that is the middle of the Horizon League standings, the Vikings will need to continue their run in home games, as Cleveland State is about to embark on their longest home stand of the conference season, including two games against teams ahead of them in the conference standings. First up will be a battle with Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday afternoon. The Mastodons currently sit in fifth place, while the Vikings are in eighth. Home cooking will certainly be a key for now, until the Vikings hit the road again to begin February.

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