CLEVELAND, Ohio (GreenBayPhoenix.com) - Down 13 points just 49 seconds into the second half, visiting Green Bay (14-12, 8-5 HL) turned to its stars and its defense. Both delivered down the stretch as the Phoenix outscored Cleveland State (12-15, 4-9 HL) 39-19 from that point on and held on for a 66-59 win in Horizon League men's basketball action.
Sophomore Keifer Sykes (Chicago, Ill.) and junior Alec Brown (Winona, Minn.) combined for 31 of Green Bay's 39 points after halftime, with Sykes scoring 19 points of his game-high 23 in the second half. Brown drained a pair of three-pointers and tallied 12 of his 17 points in the final 20 minutes as the Preseason All-League duo outscored the Vikings 31-23.
In the second half in the past two games, Green Bay has held Detroit and Cleveland State to 26 and 23 points, respectively, to erase halftime deficits.
After Green Bay fell behind 40-27, Brown and Sykes scored nine points during a 15-0 run over the next seven minutes to turn the deficit into a 42-40 lead with 12:57 remaining.
CSU responded with the next five points, but Brown quickly put the Phoenix back in front with a three-pointer and a baseline jam as part of a 7-0 spurt and a 49-45 lead. The teams traded impressive offense on the next four possessions, with Bryn Forbes hitting two three-pointers for the Vikings and Sykes scoring on a three-point play and Brown hitting another three for the Phoenix.
After a stop, Sykes drilled a three-pointer from the left wing for a 58-51 lead with 3:09 remaining. After making just 7-of-30 three-pointers as a freshman, Sykes has knocked down 21-of-46 from long range as a sophomore, including 2-of-3 on Friday.
Cleveland State refused to go away, scoring the next six points to cut the lead to 58-57 with 1:31 to play. On the next possession, Brown missed a jumper but freshman Jordan Fouse (Racine, Wis.) put back the rebound. The Phoenix got a stop on the next possession and Sykes made six free throws in the final 32 seconds to close the win.
Green Bay made all nine of its free throws in the second half and finished the game 19-of-21 from the charity stripe.
Sykes scored or assisted on nine of the team's 13 second-half buckets and made 5-of-7 field goals and all six of his free throws. In the past two games, Sykes has scored 32 second-half points and scored or assisted on 19 of the team's 26 field goals.
Led by sophomore Greg Mays (Chicago, Ill.), who had his first double-double since his college debut with 10 points and 10 rebounds, Green Bay held a 30-27 edge on the glass. Brown had five of the eight blocked shots for the Phoenix to go over 200 for his career. Brown now has 203 career blocks, tying him for third all-time in Horizon League history.
The Phoenix, sitting in a third place tie in the Horizon League standings, will now visit Youngstown State on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. CT. The contest can be seen live on ESPN3.
Single-game tickets for all Phoenix home games are on sale with the Green Bay Athletics Ticket Office. For more information and to order tickets, please call 920.465.2625, visit the athletics department offices in the Kress Events Center or access GreenBayPhoenix.com/tickets.
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