CLEVELAND — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player above originally aired on Feb. 1
It began as your average conference tournament clash. When it was over, those who saw it had witnessed one of the best college basketball games of the year.
Cleveland State withstood a valient effort from Purdue Fort Wayne in Tuesday night's Horizon League Men's Basketball Tournament semifinals, beating the Mastadons 108-104 in triple overtime. Torrey Patton led the Vikings with 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Algevon Eichelberger scored 20 with six boards off the bench and hit a clutch 3-pointer to keep his team alive.
CSU (17-7), the top seed in the conference tournament, led by as many as nine in the second half before allowing No. 10 PFW (8-15) to fight back in the final eight minutes. Jared Godfrey scored two of his team-leading 23 points on a layup with six seconds left to tie it at 67 and send things into OT, but after the Mastadons gained their own five-point advantage Patton hit a layup with 22 ticks remaining to force a second extra period with the score knotted at 76.
Cleveland State never lead in double overtime, and Purdue Fort Wayne once again found itself up by five with as little as 1:40 left. The Vikings managed to tie it up, but Godfrey's corner 3 with only 32 seconds to go gave the Mastadons an 89-86 edge. CSU would miss three consecutive shots on its ensuing posession before getting a chance to run a play out of bounds, and that's when Eichelberger stepped up big.
Eichelberger took the inbound pass from Craig Beaudion and soon found a double team in face, forcing him to put up a shot from well beyond the arc. With four seconds to go, the ball incredibly banked off the glass and into the hoop for the Saginaw, Michigan, native's first 3-pointer of the season, and the game would head to triple OT tied 89-89 after a desperation 3 by Godfrey went long at the buzzer.
The Vikings were able to regain control throughout most of the last extra period, and though the Mastadons kept it close a late free throw by Patton iced it and allowed CSU to escape with a victory. Of Patton's 30 points, 14 of them came after regulation.
Cleveland State now advances to the semifinals Monday night, where they will play eighth-seeded Milwaukee after the Panthers upset No. 2 Wright State in another Tuesday overtime clash. The remainder of the Horizon League Tournament will take place on a neutral court at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, with the eventual winner earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.