Cleveland State Falters in Second Half, Falls to Kent State, 72-55

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Cleveland State Falters in Second Half, Falls to Kent State, 72-55
USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland State men's basketball team is still searching for answers after another blowout loss.

The Vikings fell to Kent State 72-55 on Wednesday night at the Wolstein Center.

CSU (8-6) lost for the first time at home (5-1) this season and snapped their seven-game winning streak at the Wolstein Center dating back to last season.

KSU (9-5) has won four straight and snapped their three-game losing streak to CSU in the series.

If you take away CSU's victories against Division II Notre Dame College and NAIA's Rio Grande, then they have been blown out in four straight games against Division I opponents.

On Dec. 8, CSU had a 80-63 setback at then-No. 25 North Carolina State. Then the Vikings suffered an 87-53 loss at St. Bonaventure on Dec. 15 and an 87-57 loss at Akron on Dec. 23.

"I have never been in a program where we lost games like this," said CSU head coach Gary Waters. "I got to figure this out or I got to get some new people [in here]. This is not how I go."

CSU scored the first two points of the game, then it was all KSU.

The Flashes scored the next seven points and led by as much as 19 in the first half.

A Bryn Forbes three-pointer just before the buzzer cut the deficit to 39-29 at the half.

KSU shot 57.7 percent in the opening half, while the Vikings shot 41.7 percent.

Just a minute into the second half, CSU found themselves down 43-29 as the Golden Flashes opened the second half with two quick buckets. 

Still, CSU would rally using a 12-0 run over the next three minutes to close within two at 43-41 on Tim Kamczyc's three-point play.

Then CSU completely fell apart.

Kamczyc was called for a technical foul for taunting after he blocked KSU's Randal Holt's shot.

Holt, a one-time CSU recruit, converted both free throws, and that sparked a 9-3 run by the Golden Flashes to extend the lead back to double-digits, 54-44.

During the run, CSU would get careless with the ball and turned it over six times, while KSU went 6-of-6 from the line.

"[The turnovers are] hurting us because it's hurting our momentum," said Waters. "We are not giving ourselves a chance to win."

When CSU wasn't turning the ball over, they were missing their free throws.

At one point in the second half, CSU missed 8-of-10 free throws as KSU built a 63-47 advantage.

"You don't miss 13 free throws and turn it over 17 times and expect to win," said Waters. "That's what we are constantly doing. If we hit our free throws, it's a game."

CSU went 6-of-17 from the line in the second half, while KSU made 15-of-20.

Sophomore guard Charlie Lee, CSU's leading scorer at 13.5 points per game, struggled again, finishing with four points, four assists and five turnovers.

"Charlie has got to figure this out," said Waters. "When Charlie doesn't score at all for us, we are an average team. If you look at every game that we have lost, Charlie has been taken away."

Give some credit to KSU's Kris Brewer who held Lee to 1-of-8 from the field.

"For us to hold Lee to 1-of-8 shooting is a testament to how hard KB played," said KSU head coach Rob Senderoff.

Forbes came off the bench to lead CSU with 12 points, all of them coming in the first half. Kamczyc was the only starter in double figures for the Vikings with 10.

"We need our scorers to score," said Waters.

Brewer and Holt led KSU with 17 points each. They went a combined 14-of-14 from the free-throw line. Senior forward Chris Evans added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Flashes.

KSU shot 47.9 percent from the field, while CSU shot 39.6 percent.

"When we hold teams to under 42 percent this year, we are 7-1," said Senderoff.

The Vikings have little time to regroup as they open Horizon League play on Friday at Valparaiso.

Notebook: Waters announced after the game that sophomore guard Trey Lewis broke a finger in his left hand in practice and is out at least six weeks. Lewis, a transfer from Penn State, is sitting out the year per NCAA transfer rules...Waters also said that CSU still plans to take an overseas trip to France next August.

 

Tom Mieskoski is a contributor to Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.

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