The old familiar echos of the roundball filled the gym at Cleveland State Community College on Friday night as both basketball teams kicked off the 2013/2014 season in fine fashion at L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium with a pair of big wins.
The Lady Cougars took care of business with a convincing 68-47 win over the Milligan College junior varsity Buffaloes while the Cougars followed suit by topping the Georgia Highlands College Chargers by a final talley of 87-71.
The Chargers nailed a pair of early treys to take an quick 14-7 lead in the men's contest. The Cougars then promptly shook off the first game jitters and started a run of their own to quickly erase the deficit. Robert Brandon and Jackie Hale hit back to back shots from downtown and Dantario Dansby added one of his own as the home team tied the game at 16 all.
Another trey from Hale and two short jumpers in the lane by Travis Wildgoose put the Cougars on top and fueled an 11-2 run for a 27-17 lead midway through the first half.
The Cougars slowly increased their advantage the rest of the half as Dansby connected from long distance again and Brandon added a pair of buckets to help Cleveland State to an 11 point halftime advantage, 39-28.
A 10-2 run to open the second half would provide just the cushion that the home team would need the rest of the way as the Cleveland State lead grew to a 20 point bulge.
A long 3-pointer and a layup from former Bradley Central Bear, Matt Whitmire during the run, coupled with a trey from Stetson Moore helped the Cougars hold off a couple of runs by the Chargers midway through the half.
The visitors got as close as nine points as Jake Driscoll and Montrel Golston tossed in a three-point play each, but Hale let fly with his third 3 of the half and fifth of the game to help regain control of the affair for the Cougars. Keevin Tyus poured in 14 of his 15 points down the stretch as the Cougars salted away win number one of the young season.
"Overall we played hard and got positive contributions from everyone that played," said Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. "We rebounded the ball well, we were very balanced. We still have a lot to work on, like free throws, but it was a good win to start the year against a quality opponent."
The Cougars (1-0) shot 50 percent for the game, but only 46 percent (12-28) from the charity stripe while holding the Chargers to 43 percent. Hale and Tyus paced the Cougars with 15 points each, Whitmire and Wildgoose added 10 points each while Brandon and Moore finished with nine each. Moore added six assists and Brandon had seven boards.
LADY COUGARS 68
Aysia Grimsley nailed a three-pointer and Brittany Ramsey added a pair of slashing layups in the opening minutes as the home team took an early lead and would never trail in the contest.
Jamesha Mosley tossed in three tough buckets in the paint while Jara Gasper and Krista King let fly with a 3-pointer each to spur a 16-6 Lady Cougar run midway through the opening half to push their lead to 25-12.
Milligan cut the lead to eight points late in the half with a 10-0 run of their own as Kelly Barnett tossed up a pair of shots, but the Lady Cougars countered by scoring the final nine points of the half to take a commanding 38-21 halftime lead.
The Cleveland State ladies ran away and hid in the second half as they picked up right where they had left off with a 10-0 run to start the final 20 minutes, pushing their advantage to 27 points at 48-21.
Gasper and former Bradley Central Bearette, Brandi Whitted nailed a three-point bomb each while Mosley chipped in with 10 more points in the paint. Katrice Harris, Jasmin Fuqua, Carley Fetzer and Whitney Thompson all dented the scoreboard for the Lady Cougars as they put it on cruise control the rest of the way to take win number one on the season.
"It was good to get the first one out of the way and we beat a good team," explained Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. "Hopefully we got the first game jitters out of the way and we can build on this one. The press helped us, we need to work on our half court game and execute better and our guard play must improve, but overall for the first time out we played well."
Mosley paced the Lady Cougars (1-0) with 18 points and 10 boards, Gasper, Whitted and Ramsey all finished with eight points while Ramsey added 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals to the cause. The Cleveland State defense limited their guests to only 27 percent shooting for the contest (15-54 shooting)and causing 24 turnovers and also won the battle of the boards 56-34. Barnett led the Buffaloes with 14 points while Hayley Wyrick added eight.
Both Cleveland State squads will return to action on Tuesday at 6 with the women hosting Georgia Northwestern and the men taking on Bryan College.