Cleveland State (13-16) at Western Illinois (19-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: none. Home Record: CSU 9-5, WIU 10-1. Away Record: CSU 2-11, WIU 7-5. Neutral Record: CSU 2-0, WIU 2-0. Conference Record: CSU 5-10, WIU 11-3. Series Record: WIU leads 17-7.
GAME NOTES: In a BracketBuster matchup on Saturday night the Western Illinois Leathernecks will play host to the Cleveland State Vikings at Western Hall.
The Vikings most recently suffered a 50-41 loss to Wright State. It was the fourth loss in the last five games for Cleveland State. This is the first of a two-game road swing to end the regular season for the Vikings, who are 13-16 overall an just 5-10 in Horizon League action.
The Leathernecks are coming off a 64-55 loss at South Dakota State. The loss ended a three-game win streak for Western Illinois, which fell to 19-6 overall and 11-3 in the Summit League. This is the first of a three-game homestand to finish out the regular season for WIU.
While Western Illinois leads the all-time series 17-7, Cleveland State took the last meeting 85-68 nearly 20 years ago in 1994.
In the loss to Wright State, Charlie Lee led the Vikings with 12 points but shot just 4-of-15 from the field and 2-of-9 from 3-point range. Devon Long added 10 points and was the only other Cleveland State player to score in double figures. Together the team shot a very poor 26.2 percent from the floor and hit on just 4-of-22 shots from beyond the arc. Bryn Forbes is the Vikings' top scorer this season with 12.4 ppg, while Lee adds 11.2 ppg. They are the only two players to average in double-figure scoring but on defense is where the team struggles most, allowing opponents to shoot over 45.0 percent from the field and score nearly 70.0 ppg
Western Illinois' inability to make its free throws is what cost the team the game against SDSU. The Leathernecks hit on just 3-of-11 attempts from the line and also allowed SDSU to make nine 3-pointers. Ceola Clark played well in the loss, scoring 20 points and making good on four shots from beyond the arc. Adam Link added 12 points and was the only other WIU player to score in double figures. Terell Parks is shooting 56.5 percent from the field, leading the team in scoring at 12.7 ppg. Clark is second in scoring with 11.8 ppg and oddly shoots better from 3-point range, than from the field overall. The Leathernecks shoot just 64.8 percent from the free-throw line but hit on 47.0 percent of their shots from the field, and just under 40.0 percent from 3- point range. The Leathernecks thrive on the defensive end, holding opponents under 40.0 percent from the field and just 52.2 ppg, ranking second nationally in scoring defense.
The lock-down defense of WIU will be too much for CSU. The Leathernecks will be able to prevent the Vikings from getting into rhthym and earn a convincing win at home where they have won 10 of 11 games played.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 64, Cleveland State 49
02/23 10:39:12 ET