Chris Olivier was just too much down the stretch, as Eastern Illinois came from behind to nip Cleveland State, 67-65, Tuesday afternoon. Olivier scored 11 of the Panthers' 18 points in the final minutes to help steal the win.
The junior finished with 12 points off the bench in 20 minutes of action.
Eastern Illinois handled the early rush put on them by the Vikings, after surrendering up a 9-0 run that gave Cleveland State a 13-5 lead. The Panthers were able to answer back with their own 9-0 run with three consecutive 3-point plays.
The back-and-forth continued through the first half leaving the Panthers down by a single point at the break. Cleveland State was able to extend that immediately thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Charlie Lee and Trey Lewis.
Olivier had begun his late-game spurt with four points leading into the under-8 television timeout. That little breather ignited him and the Panthers. The rest of the team closed the gap, and the team moved into the lead with a Trae Anderson layup and made sure it stuck with a Josh Piper 3-pointer.
But the man of the night was Olivier who scored the final five points to close out the game.
Cleveland State did have one last chance, down by two with 12 seconds left. Charlie Lee drove to the basket and kicked it out to the corner to Andre Yates for a wide open 3-pointer, but he was unable to make it at the buzzer.
Olivier, who averages 10.1 points a game, was able to step up for the Panthers in a much needed spot after Anderson came down on his ankle after a foul and was forced to miss the final 4:42 of the game. Anderson finished with 12 points.
The Panthers picked up their sixth win of the season and third in a row putting them back to .500 to close out 2014.
Cleveland State falls to 6-7, with a big matchup coming December 29 at VCU.