Cleveland, Ohio — The Cleveland State University men’s basketball team beat the Wright State University Raiders 77-74 Thursday to improve to 6-18 (3-8) on the season.

The Vikings got off to a hot start, highlighted by sharp three-point shooting. The Vikings hit three shots from long range in their first four possessions, and maintained a strong defense throughout the first half.

To cap off one of the strongest halves of the season for CSU, Kenny Carpenter hit a shot from beyond half court to give the Vikings a nine-point-lead going into the break.

The Vikings cooled off in the second half, allowing Wright State back in the game. The Raiders took the lead with 7:32 left in the game, but CSU would fight back and re-take the lead with 3:59 to go.

The Vikings were able to hold on down the stretch to get he victory.

For a full write-up on the game, including comments from Head Coach Dennis Felton, click here.

1. Vikings offense comes back to life

In the two previous game coming into today Thursday, CSU scored just 44 and 47 points, respectively.

The Vikings turned that around tonight, as a 49 percent shooting night allowed the Vikings to put up 77 points.

After the game, Kenny Carpenter accredited the night’s success to more time in the gym and skills drills set up by Felton.

“We just put more time in our shots and that leads to our confidence,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter finished with 14 points on 5-8 shooting, while Bobby Word scored a team-high 18 points and Tyree Appleby added 17.

2. Evan Clayborne missed tonight’s game, leaves CSU front court weakend

Evan Clayborne missed tonight’s game. Felton said it was due to a coach’s decision. With Anthony Wright still in the concussion protocol — and Sloan with limited minutes and availability — Hairston and Kenic have been tasked with holding down the paint and taking on opposing team’s biggest guys.

Both have improved their play at the post, which was a big part of taking on Wright State’s Loudon Love, listed at 6’9” and 275 Lbs.

3. Sloan and minutes

Derek Sloan returned to the court over the last road trip. He has been limited in minutes.

Felton said he continues to take it day-by-day with Sloan, and it is hard telling if he will see increased minutes at any point this season.

Felton said Sloan has been very limited in practices so that he is able to play in games. He added that any amount of playing time the team gets out of Sloan is good, and having him as a weapon, even in limited minutes, is beneficial to the team.

4. Strong defense

The Vikings put together a strong all-around game, but their defense answered the call against the Horizon League’s top team.

The Vikings won the defensive rebound battle 26-24 and turned 13 Wright State turnovers into 17 points.

The gritty defense allowed CSU to work through their scoring droughts.

5.  Hairston’s evolution coming to a head

At the beginning of the season, Jamarcus Hairston played limited minutes and was not undertaking a significant role on the team.

As the middle of the season rolled around and now down the stretch, not only has he taken an increased role, but he is consistently one of the leaders in minutes.

Hairston has come up with several clutch rebounds and put-backs, including several tonight.

Felton said that Hairston was “terrible” at fronting the post at the beginning of the season, but he has become more reliable.

“It’s important because we’re small, we’re not physical, so we can’t be letting the ball in there that much,” Felton said. “He’s not really a five, but he’s had to defend fives. That one area has allowed him to stay in the game more.”

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UP NEXT: The Vikings will be home Saturday to take on Northern Kentucky at 3 p.m.

Photo by Michael Pace

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