for this game

Cleveland State punches ticket to the dance

Mar 11, 2009 - 5:26 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Cedric Jackson scored 19 points to lead Cleveland State to a 57-54 victory over No. 17 Butler in the Horizon League tournament championship game on Tuesday.

Jeremy Montgomery added 11 points and J'Nathan Bullock added 10 for the Vikings, who earned their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1986.

"These guys are a bunch of fighters and they persevered," Cleveland State coach Gary Waters told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "In order for us to be on a par with Butler, we had to beat them on a national stage."

Butler will likely make the field of 65 as an at-large team, knocking another school off the bubble.

Cleveland State (25-10, 12-6 Horizon) trailed, 48-47 after Matt Howard knocked down a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs with 10:11 left in the game. But Jackson nailed a 3-pointer on the Vikings' next possession and added four more points during a 9-2 run over the next five minutes.

"We were determined not to let them off the hook," Jackson told the newspaper. "We wanted to be aggressive and I had to step up. It feels so good."

Jackson's layup with 4:55 left would serve as Cleveland State's final field goal of the game, but Butler failed to capitalize on the drought.

The Bulldogs committed a pair of turnovers down the stretch, including one with 16 seconds left when Shelvin Mack got caught in the air trying to drive the baseline and threw the ball away.

"We studied their plays and we knew that when they drive to the baseline they were going to go to the corner," Vikings guard Norris Cole told the paper of his steal. "It shows we're a full team. Other guys step up."

Butler got two offensive rebounds on its final possession but missed three 3-point attempts and finished the contest 4-of-19 from beyond the arc.

"Our guys wanted to win," Butler coach Brad Stevens told the newspaper. "They played as hard as they could."

Mack finished with 18 points and nine rebounds for the Bulldogs (26-5, 15-3), who had won both regular-season matchups against the Vikings by a combined four points.