The first Cougars home game of the 2012-13 season was a successful one as the Cougars shook off a slow start but then ran away and hid to post an 88-58 win.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half we played well,” explained Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. “We had energy on both ends and got some easy baskets in transition and a lot of people contributed. The second half was a struggle. They went zone and changed defenses to slow the game down and we didn’t respond very well. It’s a win, but we have a lot to work on.”
The lead changed hands six times in the early going as the teams traded buckets. Travis Jones hit a long 3-pointer to put the Cougars on top 19-10, but six quick points including a pair of layups from Logan Ramsey helped the Flames cut the lead back to a three-point spread at 19-16.
The Cougars then heated up quickly and proceeded to go on a 20-4 run. Jones canned two more treys, Tre Everette added another and Ralph Eason tossed in six more points during the run, upping the lead to 20 points at 42-22. Eason put the exclamation point on the first half for the home team when, at the buzzer, he banked home his second 3-point bomb from just over the half-court stripe for a 48-26 Cleveland State lead at the break.
The Cougars picked up right where they left off with a 20-6 run to start the second half. Kahan Swift knocked down a couple of quick buckets in the paint, and Gabe Dando added a layup with an assist from Jones then tossed in his own shot from downtown. Filipe Goncalves provided a spark off the bench with an impressive driving layup seconds later as the Cougar lead grew to 30-plus midway through the half.
Trey Suttles added to his impressive statistics with two more offensive rebounds and putbacks down the stretch, while Dando tossed another shot from downtown as the Cougars finished off win No. 2 in fine fashion.
Suttles led the way for the Cougars (2-0) with 21 points and Jones finished with 16 points, while Dando, Eason and Swift all chipped in with 12 points apiece. Darien Johnson paced the Flames with 15 points, Stephen Burrows was next with 12 and Brad McClung added nine.
“These are games where you want to play a lot of people and work on things, and I don’t know to what degree we did that,” Cigliano stated. “I know what is coming down the road when we start conference play this weekend, it’s tough in conference play and we need to understand that and play hard for 40 minutes and improve every time out.”
Cleveland State will jump into conference play when Southwest Tennessee comes calling on Friday night at 6 p.m. for the women’s contest with the men to follow. Dyersburg State will arrive on Saturday afternoon at 2 for a doubleheader.