Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters tinkered with the starting lineup for the seventh time this season and might have finally found the right fit.
Waters replaced freshman Junior Lomomba with fellow freshman Bryn Forbes and it paid off.
Forbes, in his second career start, scored 14 points to lead the Vikings past Illinois-Chicago 60-50 at the Wolstein Center on Monday night.
The Vikings improved to 9-7 and 1-1 in the Horizon League, while the Flames dropped to 10-5, 1-1 HL.
It was CSU's 11th straight victory over UIC.
"We had to have another scoring threat out there," said Waters. "What we are trying to do is establish a consistent lineup. In our last seven games, we have used a different lineup every game. Because we won today we can use the same lineup for the next two games."
Forbes has scored in double-figures in nine of his past 10 games.
"The best part is knowing that you helped your team win," said Forbes, who went 5-of-9 from the field.
CSU had one of their best defensive performances of the season as they held the Flames to 33.3 percent shooting and caused 18 turnovers that led to 19 points. They also out-rebounded the Flames 32-30.
"Our guys did a great job today at the defensive end," said Waters. "And we finally hit some shots. When you hit some shots you finally win basketball games."
The Vikings shot 42.3 percent from the floor.
CSU jumped out to a fast start as they scored the first eight points of the game, but they couldn't hold on to it.
A pair of free throws from Marc Brown gave the Flames their only lead of the game, 16-15.
Freshman guard Josh Ivory's three-pointer put the Vikings up for good 24-21. Then Aaron Scales closed out the half with two straight buckets to give CSU a 28-21 lead at the intermission.
It was only the fourth time this season that CSU has led at the half. The Vikings are 4-0 when they lead at the half and 5-7 when they have trailed or been tied at the half.
Seven different Vikings scored in the first half.
CSU's Tim Kamczyc, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half, said:
We put a greater emphasis on coming out with more energy. Some of the games we have lacked an intense start and we put ourselves in a hole. So this past week we have tried to focus on bringing intensity at the beginning of the game that we usually have at the start of the second half.
CSU put the game away with a 16-7 run to start the second half and took a 44-28 lead on Forbes' free throw.
During the run, Forbes had eight points and Kamczyc made a pair of three-pointers.
A pair of free throws from Joey Miller cut it to 58-50 with 24 seconds left, but that would be the closest the Flames would get.
Sophomore guard Charlie Lee made a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Redshirt sophomore guard Sebastian Douglas had 10 points for the Vikings and led the defense with four steals.
Senior guard Gary Talton and senior forward Josh Crittle led the Flames with 10 points each.
"Seniors got to step up and lead and our seniors didn't lead today," said UIC head coach Howard Moore. "We got to get better at handling the ball."
The Vikings are back in action on Wednesday as they travel to Fairborn, Ohio to face Wright State.
Tom Mieskoski is a contributor to Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!