Andre Yates' three-pointer from the corner before the buzzer was just off the mark and Eastern Illinois escaped with a 67-65 victory over Cleveland State on Tuesday afternoon in the Wolstein Center.
CSU, playing its final nonconference game of the season, fell to 6-7, while the Panthers improved to 6-6 as they won for the fifth time in the last six games.
Charlie Lee led all scorers with 15 points, hitting 5-of-8 from three-point, and added six rebounds and four assists. Anton Grady finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Trey Lewis amassed 13 points, four rebounds and a steal.
Kaza Keane chipped in seven points and two assists off the bench, while Aaron Scales scored four points.
Chris Olivier and Trae Anderson led the Panthers with 12 points each.
CSU took a seven point (56-49) lead midway through the second half, but a 13-1 run by the Panthers over the next seven minutes gave EIU a 62-57 lead with 3:52 to play.
A Grady free throw and five straight points from Lewis helped the Vikings tie the game for the sixth time (63-63) with 1:53 to go. Olivier gave the Panthers the lead back with a short jumper, but Yates answered on the other end to tie the game, 65-65, for the seventh time on the afternoon.
The Panthers once again went to Olivier on the right block and he responded with a short jumper off the board to give EIU a 67-65 lead. The Panthers made a steal on the other end, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Vikings a chance to tie or win the game.
Coming out of a timeout, CSU was able to get the ball to Yates in the corner, but his three-pointer was just off the mark.
The Vikings used three-pointers from Lewis and Lee to jump out to a 13-5 lead five minutes into the game. But the Panthers scored the next nine points – the final three coming on three free throws by Cornell Johnston – to take a 14-13 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the half.
CSU regained a five point lead (27-22) on a jumper by Kaza Keane, but back-to-back three-pointers by the Panthers gave them a 28-27 advantage at the 4:50 mark. A 9-4 Viking run was capped by six straight points from Grady, the final one giving CSU a 36-32 lead with just over two minutes to play in the half.
EIU would score the final three points of the half to pull within one point (36-35) at the intermission.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Lee and Mason to open the second half extended CSU's lead to 42-35, but the Panthers answered with five consecutive points of their own to pull back within two points (42-40) two minutes into the second half. EIU would get within one point (46-45) at the 14:23 mark, but Lee and Lewis answered with three-pointers as the Viking lead grew back to seven points (52-45) with 11:46 to play.
CSU held the Panthers to .434 (23-53) shooting from the field, but EIU committed just seven turnovers.
The Vikings shot 24-of-50 (.480) from the floor, including 10-of-18 (.556) from three-point.
The Vikings are back in action on Monday (Dec. 29) when CSU plays at VCU at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on AM 1420 WHK with Al Pawlowski providing the play-by-play.