DAYTON - It took their patented defense in the first half and an offensive explosion in the second half, to give Wright State their first league win of the season, at home, over Cleveland State 71-62.
Wright State (7-7, 1-2 HL) scored the first basket at the 18:05 mark when Ronnie Thomas took a feed from Will Graham to put in a layup and the Raiders held the lead for the entire game.
Wright State's defense was so dominate that with 3:07 remaining in the first half the Vikings has scored only three baskets, were shooting 13 percent and were behind 21-12.
Cleveland State (10-5, 1-2 HL) did finish the half with six baskets, going 6-27 (22.2 percent) to cut the Raiders lead to five at 27-22. The Vikings' 8 for 10 performance at the foul line helped take some of the sting out of their poor shooting.
Wright State's John David Gardner credited his team's fast start to getting this game under control.
""I think we came out and set the tone early. We jumped out on them early, they came back, but we held on to get the win," he said.
In the second half the Raiders shot 65.2 percent (21-30) which put them at 53.5 percent for the game (23-43) while Cleveland State improved to 48.3 percent (14-29) in the second half and 35.7 percent for the game (20-56).
Two bright Spots for Cleveland State were J'Nathan Bullock and Dayton native Norris Cole. Bullock scored 23 points to lead all scorers and pulled down nine rebounds. Cole scored 18 points in front of almost 60 friends and family, in attendance at the Nutter Center to see his annual homecoming.
In addition to not making baskets the Vikings were in foul trouble all night. Cole, Cedrick Jackson and Trevon Harmon fouled out while George Tandy and Eric Schiele had four fouls, which forced Cleveland coach Gary Waters to play younger inexperienced players.
"We had too many guys in foul trouble. You can't play when your guys are in foul trouble," said Waters. ""We didn't shut them down at all, we played terrible and it still was a six point game with a few minutes left."
Even though the pre-season favorite Vikings lost a tough league game Waters was upbeat that his team could improve from this game.
"This wasn't us, but you have to give them credit. We will regroup from this and I hope this becomes a learning experience for us," explained Waters.
For the Raiders the Christmas Break didn't seem to affect them as they won the seven of the last eight games which was a big concern after taking a week off since their last game for Wright State coach Brad Brownell.
"We continued our good play from San Juan. We executed much better offensively in the second half," he said.
Playing both good defense and good offense is something that the Raiders have just recently begun to do.
"It is hard to win at a high level without doing both well. We have gotten into a little better flow," said Brownell.
For Wright State Cory Cooperwood scored 15 points, Todd Brown had 13 points and nine rebounds, plus John David Gardner scored 12 points.
-CSU ranks in the top 50 nationally in six categories, ranking 15th in scoring defense (54.7), 20th in turnover margin (+4.9), 23rd in steals (10.0), 40th in three-point field goal defense (.281), 47th in field goal defense (.376) and 48th in assist-turnover-ratio (1.21).
-Coming into this game Cleveland State was riding a five game winning streak and Wright State had a four game winning streak.
-Former Bowling Green and Brooklyn College assistance coach Jay Pearlman was seated next to me during the game. He now writes for Hoopville.net and several other sports outlets. He is a fountain of basketball knowledge and he is happy to share it.
-Wright State leads this series 26-23.
-Coming into tonight's game, the last four games Wright State has held their opposition in the 40s.
-Cleveland State's next game is on Saturday at Detroit at 4 p.m.
-Wright State's next game is Saturday against Youngstown State at 7 p.m.