The season-long offensive shortcomings for the Cleveland State men's basketball team went away for an afternoon on Sunday as the Vikings grabbed an impressive 88-67 win over visiting Wisconsin-Milwaukee behind a career-best 24 points from freshman Bryn Forbes and another 20 points from sophomore point guard Charlie Lee.
"We needed this win very, very badly," said Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters, whose team moved to 5-9 in the Horizon League and 13-15 overall with the win before 2,893 at the Wolstein Center.
"We saw this coming for a while and comes after we probably played our best half of the year in the loss to Valpo," added Waters.
The win came by way of a number of scoring runs by the Vikings, who tallied on eight consecutive trips down the floor to move from a 14-7 deficit to a 25-25 tie.
The scoring blitz started with a dunk by sophomore Junior Lomomba, who had 11 points and five assists in 31 minutres off the bench and a putback by sophomore Marlin Mason, who finished with nine points in his bench roll.
The Vikings then put together a 12-2 run for a 37-30 lead only to see the last place Panthers (2-12, 6-22) rally and score the final seven points in the last two minutes finished off by a jumper at the buzzer by Jordan Aaron, who led Milwaukee with 18 points.
Viking junior Devon Long got the game even at 41 with his first free throw and pushed CSU to a 42-41 lead on the second with 18:15 left.
With a 45-41 lead, the Vikings then had another 8-possession scoring run that featured four 3-pointers to secure a 65-49 when Mason concluded a fast break with a dunk with 9:52 remaining. The long balls attack had two come from Lee and one each from Forbes, who was 4-for-7 from behind the arc and Luda Ndaye, who had five points off the bench.
The Panthers had two others in double figure scoring behind Aaron with Austin Arians getting 15 and Paris Gulley scoring 11 of his 12 before the intermission.
The Vikings, who dropped a 69-57 decision earlier in the month at Milwaukee, saw their lead grow to 27 at 87-60 as freshman Aaron Scales hit a jumper with 2:44 remaining.
The 88 points posted by the Vikings were the most by CSU since scoring 92 against Grambling in a season-opening 92-49 win over visiting Grambling.
With the win, the Vikings kept their slim hopes of hosting a Horizon League first round tournament game that goes to the teams that finish 4-5-6. Those three will host teams that finish 7-8-9 with the top three earning a first round bye.
Cleveland State, which closes its home slate Wednesday with a visit from fourth place Wright State (8-5), trails fifth place Youngstown State (7-7) and sixth place Illinois-Chicago (6-7). The Vikings split the season series with Youngstown State and swept UIC. The tournament bracket will be set following games of March 2, the final day of the regular season.
In their first meeting with Wright State, the Vikings dropped a 69-53 decision on Jan. 9. Cleveland State will then go on the road Saturday to Macomb, Ill. to visit Western Illinois in a bracket buster contest before concluding the league slate March 1 in Chicago at Loyola.