CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For the Cleveland State Vikings, the season has officially come to a screeching halt.
First a loss on Thursday to the Valparaiso Crusaders which severely hurt their chances at hosting the Horizon Tournament, and now two days later a crushing loss to rival Butler.
“Oh that’s over,” Vikings coach Gary Waters said about hosting the Horizon tourney.
The Vikings again couldn’t hit in the first half, and fell in a heart wrenching 52-49 loss in front of 5021 at the Wolstein Center to Butler Saturday morning.
“I’m smiling on the outside but my heart is hurting inside,” Waters said. “I think we beat ourselves, the thing that is killing us is we just can’t hit a bucket.”
The Vikings first half killed them once again, as they were outscored by the more physical Bulldogs 28-18, and CSU shot just 7-for-29, 24 percent, from the field in the first 20 minutes.
For Butler, they avenged an earlier loss to the Vikings by taking away the outside game for Cleveland State, and holing the Vikings to just 5-for-19 in three-point shooting.
“(Jeremy) Montgomery and (Trevon) Harmon make threes, you lose,” Butler coach Brad Stevens said.
Butler themselves got into a major shooting funk in the second half, as they went from shooting 41 percent (10-for-24) in the first 20 minutes in going up 28-18, to just 34 percent (9-for-26) in being outscored 31-24 to make it a three-point win.
The Vikings are reeling. They are missing senior leader D’Aundray Brown, who Waters said would miss probably the next three games with a severe groin pull.
They never were in the game against Valpo, but did show spunk in rallying to at two times in the second half (37-36 and 47-46) take leads over Butler.
Stevens knows that the Vikings are a different team with Brown, and that going 0-for-8 from three-point range nearly cots them a shot at a win.
“Every game is unique,” Stevens said. “Your not going to go 0-for-8 (from threes) and beat this team if Brown is playing.”
For Cleveland State, they were led by freshman Anton Grady, who was the go-to player, scoring 18 points in the matchup. Harmon added 12, all in the second half, for the Vikings.
Roosevelt Jones put in a career-high for the Bulldogs with 17. Khyle Marshall had 12 to help out Butler, who move to 15-12, 9-6 in league play.
The reeling Vikings fall to 20-6, 10-4 in the Horizon.
Cleveland State will be back in action Tuesday when they travel to Milwaukee.