MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Cleveland State had four players score in double digits and won for the fourth time in five games to open the season with a 71-69 victory against No. 3 Alabama-Huntsville in the NIT Season Tip-Off consolation round on Monday.
The Vikings improved to 4-1 this season, while the Chargers fell to 3-2.
Charlie Lee paced the Vikings with 15 points and four assists, while Anton Grady scored 14 with five rebounds and three assists. Tim Kamczyc and Sebastian Douglas scored 11 points apiece, while Marlin Mason added nine.
Bryn Forbes came up with eight big points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers.
The Vikings shot .511 (24-47) for the game, including .542 (13-24) in the second half when they rallied from a nine-point deficit with nine minutes to play.
CSU’s win offset a solid shooting night for the Chargers, who hit 12 of 28 (.429) from the 3-point line.
CSU used a 3-pointer by Forbes and two in a row by Lee to take a 24-18 lead with 6:25 left in the half and the lead grew to seven points (30-23) with just over four minutes to play. However, the Chargers closed the half on an 11-2 run, capped by a Dedrick 3-pointer just before the half to give his squad a 34-32 lead at the intermission.
The Chargers used six 3-pointers in the second half to build a nine point lead midway through the second half before the Vikings clawed back.
A Zane Campbell three-pointer with 7:52 to play put UAH up eight points (62-54), coming on the heels of a Forbes 3-pointer that had cut CSU’s deficit to five.
Lee answered Campbell on the other end with a 3-pointer of his own and a 3-pointer from Kamczyc with 6:26 left in the game to bring the Vikings within two at 62-60.
However, Campbell answered right back with his fourth 3-pointer of the game and UAH’s 12th of the night to push the lead back to five points (65-60) with six minutes left. But a Grady layup started a 10-2 run during the next three minutes, allowing the Vikings to take a 70-67 lead when Douglas split two free throws with just under two minutes to play.
Douglas scored five of his 11 points in the final minutes of the game, including the layup that tied the game at 67.
Conner Blasi hit a pair of free throws with 1:23 left to pull the Chargers back within one (70-69) and after Mason missed two free throws on the other end, UAH had a chance to take the lead, but a 3-point attempt by Wayne Dedrick with the shot clock winding down was off the mark.
Grady was fouled chasing down the rebound and split the two free throws as the Chargers missed two chances at the end to tie the game.
CSU hit 9 of 18 (.500) from the 3-point line.