Cleveland State Overtakes San Francisco in OT 69-65


Leading almost the entire length of regulation, the Cleveland State defense finally broke the USF Dons in OT 69-65 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Dons led the Vikings by as much as 11 points only to blow that lead when Cleveland State’s lock down defensive play narrowed the scoring gap with onesie, twosie and consistently thrilling 3 point shots when the chips were down. Returning to the point guard led approach, Corey Hilliard and Matt Glover were the starting guards for USF. Matt Christianson came off the bench in place of Kruize Pinkins contributing 7 key rebounds and 11 points. USF’s Kruize Pinkins playing with four fouls in the second half finally fouled out with 1:33 left to play finishing the game with a disappointing 9 points and 4 boards and rendering him useless to the team for the OT assault.

Tim Derksen and Mark Tollefson were both relentless and invaluable throughout the game and into OT. Tollefson led the Dons in scoring with 17 points. Derksen finished with 11 points with 9 of those points coming from 3 point shots. Matt Christianson and Mark Glover led the team in rebounds with 7 rebounds each. Devin Watson had a very quiet afternoon and did not score any points in his 13 minutes on the floor.

The Dons scoring drought late in the second half for nearly 6 key minutes gave Cleveland just the opening they needed to connect their shots to send the game into OT.

The Cleveland crowd came alive to cheer on their team, perhaps drawing a few fans from the behind the curtain broadcast of the Cleveland Browns football game in the Wolstein Center which was divided up to accommodate both contests.

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Three Cleveland State players finished the game in double digits. Anton Grady, Charlie Lee and Andre Yates, who had 17, 15 and 13 points respectively. Grady and Vinny Zolo were the rebounding leaders for the team with 7 rebounds each. Three players (Lee, Zolo and Trey Lewis) finished the game with 3 assists each demonstrating the complete player qualities present on this team.

As disappointing as this loss is for USF, it was a quality loss. The pace of the game and the tough-minded defense was a great segue from non-conference games to the Dons’ first WCC game against Pacific on December 27, 2014. Given that the Dons led for at least 85% of the game, this was not the Christmas magic they were hoping for.

Cleveland State is projected to finish second in the Horizon conference behind Green Bay who, like USF, participated in the Gulf Coast Showcase earlier this season.