Green Bay used a strong second half, using 15-point nights from Jordan Fouse and Keifer Sykes to grab a 66-55 win over visiting Cleveland State Thursday night in the Horizon League men's basketball opener for both teams.
The Phoenix, selected the pre-season favorite to win the Horizon League, rallied from a 29-23 halftime deficit behind a 16-for-21 performance from the free throw line after intermission and limited the Vikings to just 10 field goals in the final 20 minutes for the win.
Cleveland State, which got 11 points from both Trey Lewis and Marlin Mason while Anton Grady added 10 points for the Vikings, went more than four minutes without a field goal in the early minutes of the second half.
That allowed the Phoenix (10-3 overall, 1-0 in the Horizon League) to get back into the game. Alec Brown converted both ends of a one and one with 14:55 left in the game to tie the contest at 38. Brown went back to the line at 13:21 and his two free throws pushed Green Bay into a 40-38 lead it never relinquished.
The Phoenix, who had only 40 shots from the field, hit on 22 including 5-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc in making their way to the 11-point win.
Another factor was a 17-for-24 night from the free throw line including going 16-for-21 on second half free throws for Green Bay.
Cleveland State (8-7, 0-1) had a 23-for-58 evening from the field but only hit 3-of-21 on 3-pointers and were just 6-for-11 from the line in the loss. Another factor in the Vikings dropping their league opener was getting just seven points from Bryn Forbes, who was 2-for-10 from the field including 1-for-7 behind the 3-point line.
The Vikings stay in Wisconsin, playing Saturday at Milwaukee. Cleveland State has its league home opener Jan. 8 against Detroit.