MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – The University of Alabama in Huntsville men's basketball team bounced back from its last outing at the NIT Season Tip-Off, putting forth a strong effort but ultimately falling just short by a 71-69 score to Cleveland State at Robert Morris University.
Conner Blasi was magnificent in the contest, scoring a game-best 19 points as he was 7-for-10 from the floor while also collecting five rebounds.
The contest was close through much of the opening minutes, but Cleveland State eventually pushed out to a seven-point advantage at 30-23 with 4:15 left in the opening period. That lead, however, would be the biggest of the night for the Vikings as the Chargers would quickly respond.
An 11-2 run over the final four minutes of the stanza was punctuated by a 3-pointer by Wayne Dedrick near the expiration of the half, and it gave the Blue and White a 34-32 lead at the halftime break. During the run, Dedrick scored eight of UAH's 11 points.
He scored 11 of his 13 points in the period, helping the Chargers shoot 50 percent for the frame.
Starting the second half just as hot, Zane Campbell scored the first five points and Blasi added an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Chargers up 42-35 just under two minutes into the frame.
Cleveland State would answer with a 7-0 run to pull back into a 42-42 tie just two minutes later, but Andrew Donovan hit three consecutive 3-pointers during a 9-2 run to put the Chargers back up 51-44 at the 14:00 mark. UAH would enjoy as much as a nine-point advantage at 57-48 after a Jaime Smith basket with just under 10 minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately, the Vikings responded and a pair of free throws with 2:55 left in the contest put CSU on top where it would stay for the duration.
UAH shot 49.1 percent for the contest including a 12-for-28 showing from beyond the arc, and the pair of Blasi and Dedrick was joined in double figures by Campbell who scored 16 on the strength of a 4-for-6 performance from 3-point land.
Shooting 51.1 percent for the contest, Cleveland State was led by Charlie Lee's 15 points. The Vikings connected on nine of their 18 attempts from long-range.
The Chargers will wrap up the NIT Season Tip-Off on Tuesday against Bowling Green with the tip scheduled for 4 p.m. CST.
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