Cleveland State tried to complete a 16-point comeback in the second half against UW-Milwaukee but fell just short in a 86-84 loss.
With the game tied at 84, the Vikings' Marlin Mason fouled the Panthers' Tony Meier as he shot a three-pointer. Meier made the first two free throws but missed the third one. Anton Grady tried a last second full-court heave, but it fell well short.
The Vikings have now lost three straight games and are now a game and a half behind first place Valparaiso. Just a week ago, Cleveland State was a half game in front of the Crusaders.
Cleveland State's Trevon Harmon lead all scorers with 27 points.
The Vikings will play in the ESPN BracketBuster game against Drexel on Saturday at the Wolstein Center.