Cleveland State Defeats Wright State on Senior Day
On senior day, the Cleveland State men's basketball team took care of business.
They secured the No. 2 seed in the Horizon League tournament Saturday with a 77-55 win over Wright State before 3,891 at the Wolstein Center.
With the No. 2 seed, CSU gets a double-bye into the Horizon semifinals on Saturday at Valparaiso and only needs to win two games to get back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
They also get some much needed rest.
"I think we are in a great place right now to go into this tournament," said CSU head coach Gary Waters. "We are banged up right now. Trey (Harmon) needs the rest and D'Aundray (Brown) needs another week at least."
Brown, who was expected to return for Saturday's game, missed his seventh game in the last eight with a groin injury. Harmon has been dealing with a broken toe. And Jeremy Montgomery has a thigh bruise.
"(D'Aundray) couldn't move laterally," said Waters.
After losing five straight, CSU closed out the regular season with back-to-back home wins against Detroit on Thursday and WSU to improve to 22-9 overall and 12-6 in the Horizon.
Montgomery feels confident heading into the tournament.
"(It doesn't) matter who we play (in the tournament)," said Montgomery. "I felt we got our swagger back."
Harmon added: "If the freshman continues to lift us and help us, we will go a long way (in the tournament)," he said.
It seemed only fitting that CSU's seniors would be the keys to victory against WSU as they combined for 44 points.
The senior backcourt of Harmon and Montgomery did most of the damage. Harmon led the Vikings with a game-high 20 points, scoring 15 of them in the second half. And Montgomery contributed 17 points.
"I thought these seniors went out in style," said Waters. "One of the things we talked about was leaving a legacy. (The seniors) want to win a championship on their own. They don't want people saying Norris Cole did it (for them). They want people to say they led a team to a championship."
CSU also seemed to have found their identity back as their defense held WSU to 40.8 percent in the game and caused 15 turnovers that led to 17 points.
"We put a stronger emphasize on concentrating on defense and let the offense come when its there," said Waters.
Even CSU's offense was clicking on all cylinders as they shot 63 percent in the game and dished out 16 assists in their 29 baskets.
The Vikings scored the first five points of the game and took its largest lead of the first half on Montgomery's 3-pointer that put CSU up 22-14.
WSU would rally and take the lead on Vance Hall's 3-pointer that put the Raiders up 24-23. That would be their only lead of the game.
The Vikings would take the lead back on their next possession as freshmen Anton Grady's putback put the Vikings up for good 25-24 and they never looked back.
In the first half, CSU shot 52.2 percent and took a 30-27 lead at the half. They missed eight free throws in the opening half.
Montgomery led the Vikings with 10 first half points on 4-of-8 from the field.
Harmon and Montgomery set the tone in the second half as they scored nine of CSU's first 10 points to take a 40-29 lead on Montgomery's lay-up.
The Raiders cut it to 42-38 on AJ Pacher's 3-pointer with 14:10 left.
Harmon responded with a 3-pointer of his own. Then CSU would start to pull away using several backdoor plays that resulted in eight straight lay-ups for the Vikings. CSU's Ike Nwamu's 3-pointer capped off a 33-14 run that saw the Vikings extend their lead to 72-52 with 3:14 left.
In the second half, CSU shot 73.9 percent as 12 of their 17 field goals in the final 20 minutes were lay-ups.
Grady provided a spark off the bench for CSU, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds. Tim Kamczyc had nine points for the Vikings, all of them came in the second half as he went 4-of-4 from the field, all on lay-ups.
WSU (13-18, 7-11 HL) were led by Julius Mays with 15 points and Pacher had 12.
News and notes: Waters said the players will be off the next three days and resume practice on Wednesday.... Montgomery's 91 career wins tied Ken "Mouse" McFadden (1985-89) for the most wins in school history.... With three 3-pointers on Saturday, Harmon's 71 treys on the season set a new CSU single season school record, surpassing Damon Stringer (1999-00) and Theo Dixon's (2000-01) 70 treys.
Tom Mieskoski is a contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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