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Cleveland State plays in CIT, looks to recover from missed chance at NCAA bid

The Horizon League men's basketball tournament proved to be a series of missed opportunities that allowed Milwaukee, the only semi-finalist with no shot at hosting the title game to emerge with the league's NCAA tournament bid by going on the road to win at Wright State in the title game.

Among those who had opportunity slip through their hands was Cleveland State, which lost in their initial tournament outing in the semi-final to Wright State, 68-63.

The Vikings, who ended the year 21-11, would have hosted the tournament championship with a win over the Raiders as top seed Green Bay was upended in overtime by neighbor Milwaukee in the other semi-final.

By league rule, should the top seed and tournament host be defeated in its semi-final, the job of hosting goes to the remaining highest seed. By taking second place in the regular season, the Vikings would have returned to the Wolstein Center with a win over Wright State.

In the loss to Wright State, the Vikings wound up chasing the Raiders much of the evening after Miles Dixon gave the Raiders a 28-26 lead late in the first half that ended with the Vikings trailing 37-31.

Behind 16 points from Charlie Lee and another 14 from Trey Lewis, the Vikings stayed close and grabbed a 50-49 lead on a layup from Sebastian Douglas with 8:01 left in the game. But that lead evaporated quickly when Cole Darling hit a pair of free throws just 17 seconds later and the Raiders were never headed the rest of the way.

Darling was one of three Raiders in double figures with 21 points. Wright State also got 17 points from Dixon and 11 from A.J. Pacher in moving to 20-13 with the win.

Wright State then muffed their chance at an NCAA bid when the Raiders were dumped on their home floor by Milwaukee three nights later.

For their efforts, the Vikings were awarded a bid to the Tournament and travel to Athens, Ohio to play a first round game in the 32-team event on Wednesday at Ohio University.

While the Bobcats, 23-11, own a 9-2 edge in the all-time series with the Vikings, the two have not met since Ohio University won a 87-82 decision in Athens back on Nov. 20, 1999. The Vikings were 2-3 this year against Mid-American Conference teams while the Bobcats split a pair of games with Horizon League foes.

Gaining post season honors for the Vikings are Bryn Forbes, a second-team all-Horizon League choice and Jon Harris. the league's top sixth man.

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