All Cleveland State games can be watched on a live webcast through the Cougar Sports Network by going to the CSCC website and following the links.
The Cleveland State Cougars (seeded eighth) will open tournament play on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. locking horns with the ninth-seeded Volunteer State Pioneers. The winner of that game will move on and play Friday at 7 p.m. against the top-seeded Bucks of Motlow State, who received a first-round bye. The Cougars and the Pioneers split their regular season games with each team winning in the other team’s gym. The Pioneers won in Cleveland on Dec. 4, 88-79. The Cougars returned the favor in Gallatin on Jan.29 with a 70-62 win.
“We have built a little momentum at the end of the year as we won two out of our last three games in the regular season,” explained Cougars’ coach Lee Cigliano. “We like to be playing our best basketball at tournament time and we have improved as the season has gone along. In this conference, if you have a bad game especially in the tournament, you will probably get beat. It doesn’t matter, top seed or last. We only have to be better than our opponent on that day and we feel good about our chances in the tournament.”
The Cleveland State Lady Cougars (fourth seed) will also face Volunteer State (fifth seed) opening tournament play on Thursday night at 9 p.m. The winner of that game will face the winner of the top seeded Chattanooga State Lady Tigers and the Motlow State (eighth seed)-Columbia State (ninth seed) winner on Saturday in the semifinals at 5. The Lady Cougars swept the season series with the Lady Pioneers. But, it wasn’t easy winning at home, 59-54, and in Gallatin by a single point, 58-57.
“There are no easy games in this conference and especially when you get to tournament time,” stated Lady Cougars’ coach Dan Lumpkin. “We beat them twice in two close games. This is a tough first game, but they all will be tough at this stage. It will be a challenge, because I know that they will be ready for us and I hope we are ready too. Getting off to a good start will be a key. Limiting our turnovers and rebounding the ball will be a key which has been a problem in recent games. We’re excited, it should be a great tournament.”
While the Cougars (12-14,5-13) have won two of their last three games, the Lady Cougars (20-5, 13-5) have lost four of their last five after starting the season 19-1 and being ranked nationally for much of the season.
In other first round games on the women’s side of the bracket, the host team Dyersburg State (seventh seed) will play 10th seeded Jackson State to open the tournament on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Second-seeded Walters State will play the winner of that game on Thursday at 3 while third-seeded Roane State will take on sixth seeded Southwest Tennessee on Thursday at 5.
On the men’s side of the bracket, seventh-seeded Walters State will have to top 10th seeded Dyersburg State on their home floor on Wednesday at 7 if they wish to advance to play second-seeded Columbia State on Friday at 3. Third-seeded Chattanooga State will take on sixth-seeded Roane State on Friday at 5 while the fourth-seeded Saluqis of Southwest Tennessee will open with the fifth-seeded Generals of Jackson State on Friday at 9.