CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland State University men's basketball team rallied from a late 12-point deficit to tie the game, but visiting Purdue Fort Wayne hit a three-pointer in the final second to claim an 82-79 victory Sunday evening in the Wolstein Center.
The Mastodons had a 72-60 lead with six minutes to play, but the Vikings refused to go away. CSU fought back to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but the guests took advantage of taking the last shot of the game.
"We didn't defend with enough toughness tonight," head coach Dennis Felton said. "Our toughness on the ball defensively was lacking—they had too many easy finishes off drives against us."
True freshman Seth Millner notched his first collegiate double-double with season highs in points (22) and rebounds (10), the former of which led all players Sunday. He was 6-of-11 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the line and added two steals.
Sophomore Tyree Appleby had 20 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals. He notched his second 20-point outing of the season and fourth in double figures.
Two days after outrebounding nationally ranked Ohio State, Cleveland State posted a 49-38 advantage on the glass Sunday. The 49 boards were a season best while the +11 margin is a season high against a Division I opponent.
Sophomore Algevon Eichelberger led the way on the boards, grabbing 11 in just 22 minutes of action, including six on the offensive end. He added seven points, an assist and two blocks without committing a turnover.
Purdue Fort Wayne hit a three-pointer to take a 7-5 lead fewer than three minutes into the game and led for the remainder of the first half although the margin varied.
The Mastodons used a 7-0 run to open their lead to double figures, 25-15, with just over eight minutes gone in the contest. Purdue Fort Wayne had edged its lead up to 11 points, 39-28, with just over five minutes left in the period.
Cleveland State then went on an 11-1 run to close the first half, holding the Mastodons to a single point over the final 5:30. The Vikings had 10 points in the point during the stretch along with a single free throw.
Purdue Fort Wayne still had a slim lead, 50-47, six minutes into the second half, but the guests soon extended their advantage. The Mastodons went on an 11-2 spurt over the following four minutes to open up their largest lead of the game, 61-49.
The lead was still at 12 points, 72-60, with just over five minutes remaining in the contest. Cleveland State then used three-pointers by sophomore Stefan Kenic and Millner, sandwiched around a fast-break layup by junior Jaalam Hill, all of which were assisted by Appleby, to pull within 72-68 with 3:30 left to play.
The Mastodons stemmed the tide for a couple minutes and nearly looked to have put the game away with a layup to push their lead to 79-73 with just under a minute left.
However, the Vikings had a final run in them. Junior Kasheem Thomas hit a deep three-pointer to cut the lead to 79-76 with 47 seconds left. He then secured the defensive rebound on the other end after a Purdue Fort Wayne miss.
Inbounding the ball in front of the CSU bench out of a timeout, Millner found Kenic on the left wing, and the sophomore spun around and buried a three-pointer to tie the game for the first time since the opening two minutes of the contest.
Purdue Fort Wayne had the last laugh though, as the guests nailed a straightaway three with under a second to play. CSU chucked the ensuing inbounds pass across halfcourt, but it was intercepted by a defender to end the game.
"Seventy nine points should be enough to win a game, but when we weren't scoring, we were making turnovers," Felton said. "Their 15 steals really hurt us tonight because when you have live-ball turnovers, you're immediately on your heels and those are really hard to defend."
Hill had 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Thomas and Kenic finished with similar stat lines, each netting eight points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.
"This stretch has been good and bad I guess," Felton said. "It's been bad that we're playing so many games with so little time in between and limited time to work on ourselves and our team. On the other hand, we're packing in a lot of real game experience for all of our young players."
Cleveland State will hit the road for a pair of games over the next six days, beginning with a trip to DePaul Wednesday, Nov. 28, for a game that will air on Fox Sports 2.