After a number of frustrating visits to Indianapolis, the Cleveland State men’s basketball team used a quick start and double figure scoring from four led by 18 points from Jeremy Montgomery to grab a 76-69 win Friday night over two-time NCAA runner-up Butler before 7,994 fans at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The Vikings, who last won at Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler was in the 2009 Horizon League championship game, raced to a 20-4 lead and had enough left in the tank to post their third straight win and claim a share of first place along with Milwaukee at 5-1 in league play.
Cleveland State pushed its overall record to 15-3 with the win and boosted its road record to 8-1 in true road games with the lone setback at South Florida of the Big East.
“To win here, we had to rebound the basketball,” said Cleveland State coach Gary Waters. “Tim Kamczyc was an iron man. That’s what I call him, an iron man, and Jeremy (Montgomery) hit some big shots.”
Kamczyc was right behind Montgomery with 17 points and added five rebounds where the Vikings edged the Bulldogs, 32-29 and matched Butler with 13 turnovers each.
“It’s ready for who ever wants to step up and grab (Horizon League),” added Waters of the Vikings road win over Butler and other happenings in recent league games including a Detroit win over the Bulldogs.
After taking the early 16-point advantage, the Vikings saw the Bulldogs go on a 13-4 run to help Butler cut the CSU lead to 35-33 at intermission. The opening moments of the second half found Butler take 1-point leads twice before Montgomery put Cleveland State on top 42-41 and build the advantage to as many as 11 before using a strong game from the foul line in the last minute to secure the win.
Holding a 69-63 lead, Cleveland State went 7-for-7 from the line in the final 37 seconds with Anton Grady hitting all three of his foul shots while Montgomery and Trey Harmon each good on two free throws.
“We stayed focused,” said Montgomery of making the quick start payoff in the end.
“We like to call it weathering the storm,” added Kamczyc of the Butler run that made a game of it after Cleveland State’s early 20-4 lead.
The Vikings as a team were 18-of-23 from the line lead by Montgomery going 7-for-8 while the Bulldogs hit on 25-of-42 from the charity stripe.
Joining Montgomery in double figures were Tim Kamczyc with 17 while Trey Harmon added 12 and Grady another 11 with a team-best eight rebounds. The Vikings shot 25-for-52 from the field including 8-for-21 from behind the 3-point line.
The Bulldogs, 9-9 overall and 3-3 in the HL with the loss, also had four in double figures paced by 13 from Andrew Smith followed by 12 each from Ronald Norad and Chase Stigall and 11 from Khyle Marshall.
“I’ve only had two technicals in my life so you know how I felt about (officiating),” said Waters of a technical he collected in a game that saw Butler and Cleveland State combine for 67 free throws.
Cleveland State concludes its Indiana road trip with a 2:35 p.m. Sunday tipoff at Valparaiso, where the Vikings have lost the last two times on the Crusaders’ home floor.
The Crusaders were able to draw even with Youngstown State at 4-2 and share third place with a 76-62 win over the Penguins on Friday.
The Vikings return home Jan. 20 to face Green Bay with a start time moved to 8 p.m. due to the game being televised on ESPNU. Cleveland State then hosts a 2 p.m. Jan. 22 game with Milwaukee.