MEMPHIS—The first half of the road trip on Friday night for the Cleveland State basketball teams was a very successful one as they picked up a pair of big Region VII Conference wins over Southwest Tennessee.
The Lady Cougars avenged an early season setback at home with a 75-65 win over the Lady Saluquis in Saluqi-land while the Cougars made it a clean sweep with a 71-65 win over the Saluqis.
The men's contest was a back and forth affair from start to finish. The home team took a 14-8 lead to get things started while the Cougars hit a hot streak midway through the first half to open up a 31-23 advantage. The Saluquis seesawed back into the lead by halftime, with a late run for a two-point advantage, 34-32, at the break.
The game remained close throughout the second half as the Cougars were able to take the lead back and hold it for much of the final 20 minutes.
Leading by a single point with a minute and a half to play, Travis Jones came up with a huge three-point play for a four point Cougar advantage. Two clutch Saluqi free tosses sliced the lead back to two points, but a pair of free throws from Trey Suttles and a nice driving layup from Jones would turn out to be the final nail as the Cougars hung on for the win.
"All conference wins are big ones, but this is a tough place to come and get a win doesn't happen very often and we are very proud of our guys," explained Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. "We were able to come up with the big play or the big free throw when we needed it down the stretch and really all game long. So this was a big win."
The Cougars shot an even 50 percent for the game and out-rebounded the taller Saluqis, 40-34. The Saluqis shot only 34 percent in the contest.
Ralph Eason led the way for the Cougars (15-9, 8-7) with 13 points and seven assists, Jones finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, Suttles added 12 points, Xavier Okoro had 11 points while Kahan Swift added 10 points and eight boards. Justin Steel led the Saluqis with 25 points while Marshun Newell added 15.
LADY COUGARS 75,
LADY SALUQIS 65
The Lady Cougars (15-9, 8-7) gave coach Dan Lumpkin reason to smile on Friday night as they played perhaps their most complete game against the quick and very tallented Lady Saluqis. The Lady Cougars shot a very respectable 43 percent from the floor in the game, 44 percent from three-point land (8-18), and an impressive 80 percent from the charity stripe, knocking down 25 of their 31 attempts.
The Cleveland State defense was equally as impressive as they held Southwest to 35 percent shooting and only 21 percent from behind the arc.
"This was a great team win," said Lumpkin. "The girls gave a great team effort for the entire 40 minutes."
After leading by four points at halftime, 28-24, the Lady Cougars steadily widened their lead throughout the second half to post the 10-point win in impressive fashion.
Jara Gasper paved the way for Cleveland State with 23 points on the night including 10-11 from the free throw line and knocking down three shots from downtown. Robyn Anthony added 17 points and seven assists, Chelsea Jones had 15 points and Hannah Brown added nine. Teniesha Lurry led the Lady Saluqis with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Brandi James and Jasmine Cofield added 13 points apiece.