CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Charlie Lee scored a career-high 22 points and Cleveland State used several key stops on the defensive end to earn a 78-73 win over Toledo on Saturday afternoon in the Wolstein Center.
The win improves the Vikings to 6-2 this year, while Toledo slips to 2-5.
Freshman Bryn Forbes scored 16 points, following up on his career-high 18 point effort on Wednesday night at Ball State. Tim Kamczyc added 15 points, while Sebastian Douglas scored 10 and added five steals.
“This was a hard fought game and I thought that team outplayed us, but our kids never gave up which was very important,” head coach Gary Waters said. “They never quit and I also thought the fans gave them some energy. THis game turned out to be an offensive game and that’s not what I’m about. But our guys over the last three and a half minutes stopped them five straight times and that was the ballgame.”
After Rian Pearson hit a pair of free throws to give the Rockets a 71-69 lead with 2:15 left, the Vikings had a turnover, but Toledo could not extend the lead.
Instead, Douglas knocked away a pass and saved the ball from going out of bounds to Lee who pushed the ball up the court and found a cutting Douglas who converted a reverse layup to tie the game. After a CSU stop, Lee hit a three-pointer to give CSU its first lead of the contest with 31 seconds left.
Douglas then stole a pass at midcourt and took it the length of the court for a layup, extending the lead to five (76-71) with 19 seconds left.
A CSU foul allowed Toledo to pull back within two (76-73) with a pair of free throws, but Lee calmly sank two free tosses on the other end for the final margin.
The Vikings trailed at the half, 32-26, thanks in large part to Toledo shooting 52-percent from the floor and 11 Viking turnovers. It was the sixth time that CSU trailed at the half this year, but the fourth time the Vikings rallied to win.
A quick Toledo bucket to open the second half extended the lead to seven (33-26), but CSU responded with a 13-6 run to tie the contest at 39-39 on a Forbes three-pointer.
Toledo would use a run midway through the half to regain a nine-point advantage (56-47) with just under 10 minutes to play before the Vikings began to chip away again, capped with five straight stops on the defensive end in crunch time.
The Vikings shot 53-percent (27-51) for the game, highlighted by a 17-of-26 (.654) effort in the second half when they also had just five turnovers.
The Vikings now have a week off until playing at N.C. State next Saturday (Dec. 8) at 1:00 p.m.