Yates picked up two quick fouls and played only about 4 minutes in the first half, but Cleveland State (9-8, 3-0 Horizon League) opened up a 19-2 lead as Oakland started the game shooting 1-of-10 from the field.
Vinny Zollo's 3 with 10:18 left in the half made it 24-6 before the Vikings missed their next 10 field goals and Oakland (5-11, 1-1) used a 22-3 run to take its first lead, 28-27, with 3 minutes left.
Cleveland State took a 34-30 lead into halftime.
Yates, who played 18 minutes in the second half, scored eight - including back-to-back 3's - during a 12-4 run that pushed Cleveland State's lead to 53-42 with 13 minutes left.
Jalen Hays' layup with 2:15 to go pulled Oakland within 63-61, but the Golden Grizzlies missed their final five shots.