CLEVELAND, Ohio – For the first time this season the Cleveland State women's basketball team posted back-to-back wins, as the Vikings earned a 67-63 victory over Illinois State Monday evening. With the win, the Vikings improve to 3-2 overall this season.
· Crockett, Slaney, Ely, White, Miller
· Cleveland State shot 43-percent from the floor against ISU, including a .563 clip during the third quarter.
· The Vikings forced Illinois State into 21 turnovers, and turned those miscues into 21 points.
· Monday's game marked the third time this season that Cleveland State has shot 40-percent or better.
· The 16 steals on the game marked a season-high for the Vikings.
· Mariah Miller has now recorded double-digit points in four out of the first five games.
· The Vikings remained perfect at home with Monday's win, improving to 3-0 at the Wolstein Center this season.
· This marked the first time this season that the Vikings have posted wins in back-to-back games.
· Monday's victory kept Cleveland State undefeated against Illinois State, as the Vikings now own a 3-0 record in the all-time series.
After a back and forth first quarter that ended with both teams knotted at 12-12, Illinois State went on a 6-0 run to open the second period, gaining an 18-12 lead at the 7:46 mark. The Vikings responded with a 6-2 run of their own to put the score at 20-18 following a Mariah Miller layup, and then traded baskets over the next four minutes until a Jade Ely layup tied the score at 24-24 with 1:32 left in the first half.
A pair of Savanna Crockett free throws on the next trip down the floor put the Vikings up by two at 26-24, but Illinois State closed out the frame with three straight points to take a slim 27-26 advantage into the halftime break.
The Vikings came out of the halftime break with a strong defensive effort, grabbing four steals over the first two minutes of the frame, and went on a 10-0 run, to gain a 36-27 advantage at the 7:52 mark. This 10-point streak was started by a steal and layup from Mariah White, and ended on an Ely layup for the Vikings' largest lead of the game up to that point.
Illinois State answered with a 10-5 run of its own to close the gap to four points at 41-37, but a Rachel Slaney three-pointer at the 3:40 mark silenced the Redbirds and put the Vikings back up by seven at 44-37. The Redbirds were then able to close the third quarter on a 10-6 run, as the two teams entered the final 10 minutes of action with the Vikings leading 50-47.
The Vikings opened the fourth period with a pair of Crockett baskets then, extending their lead to 54-47 with 8:22 left on the clock. The two teams then traded baskets over the next few possessions, until Cleveland State went on a 6-3 run, extending its lead to double-digits at 64-54 on a White layup.
The Vikings were then able to hold the advantage throughout the final portion of the fourth quarter, coming away with the 67-63 victory for their second straight win.
CLEVELAND STATE VS. ILLINOIS STATE HIGHLIGHTS
From The Sidelines
Overall thoughts on the game…
"Tonight's game had two equal teams that were really fighting for the win, and at times, playing some really good basketball. Overall I thought we played well tonight – this was some of the best basketball we have played to date. I can't stress enough how new this is for everybody on the floor, and yes, we are making mistakes, but they are easily fixable over time which is the good thing. The challenge right now for us is to win games while we are trying to figure all of that out. You can stress and emphasize this new system as much as you want as a coach, but until the players find a way to settle into the system and do the things we ask of them, it's going to be a challenge. I thought we took a step in the right direction in settling into the system tonight, and we came away with the win. This team is going to continue to grow, and we are going to play really good basketball consistently for a long period of time, but we just need to keep working until we get to that point."
Thoughts on the change in momentum coming out of the halftime break…
"We tried to adjust our positioning on defense and squeeze down to keep the ball out of the paint after halftime, and we were able to force them into taking outside shots early on in the third quarter. Illinois State is a team that has good inside presence, and tonight was a game of adjustments and a game of runs, which we were fortunately able to come out on top of. Our players need to learn how to handle situations like tonight and make adjustments in-game, and know that every play could be the moment of winning or losing a close game like this. I'm so happy with how this team continues to learn and grow, and I thought our preparation for tonight's game was outstanding. This team is putting in a lot of effort during practice, and they are finally starting to believe in a new system and new way of doing things, and It's a lot of fun to be a part of."
Thoughts on tonight's defensive efforts…
"The turnovers and ball control is what Cleveland State women's basketball is about. The best of the system will come out when our defense is turning into offense. In the second half you saw a glimpse of that, and hopefully we can continue to grow in that area, because we don't win this game tonight if it wasn't for that strong play during the second half. We definitely need to work on playing more efficiently, we have been turning the ball over too much, and to cut that down to 11 turnovers tonight was a large part of our success. Maintaining possession when we have the ball, and forcing our opponents into turnovers is how this system is going to win."
The Vikings will hit the road for a pair of games in California this weekend, traveling to San Diego for the San Diego Thanksgiving Tournament. The Vikings will face the host Toreros on Friday, November 23, and Tulane on Saturday, November 24.