The Cougars also dug themselves a big hole and came within an eyelash of digging their way out, but in the end couldn’t quite complete the comeback, falling to the Raiders by a final of 73-69.
To say that the first half of the ladies’ contest was not a thing of beauty would be an understatement. Made baskets were few and far between for both teams, especially for the Lady Cougars, and neither team approached 25 percent shooting.
Jasmine Davis scored the first points of the game on a nice driving layup, but from there the Lady Cougars made only one more basket until there were only four minutes remaining in the half. Meanwhile, the Raiderettes stretched their lead to a 19-4 margin.The Lady Cougars were finally able to connect on 5-of-6 free tosses and added a layup from Robyn Anthony for a 7-0 run right before halftime to cut the lead to 21-11 at the break.
It didn’t get much better in the second half. The Raiderettes opened up a 12 point lead five minutes into the half, but over the next eight minutes of play the Lady Cougars slowly whittled away at the lead. A rare four-point play by Mercedes Owens cut the lead to eight at the 12:40 mark. Two free throws from Hannah Brown cut the lead to two points and moments later a pair of charity tosses by Shadave Taylor trimmed the margin to one, 43-42.
The Lady Cougars took their first lead of the night, since the opening bucket, with 3:15 left in the game on an old fashioned three-point play from Brown to give the visitors a 45-43 lead. A baby hook and short jumper by Me’Lisa Martinez and a key offensive rebound in the final minute from Anthony enabled the Lady Cougars to outlast the determined Raiderettes and hang on for the win.
Brown led the way for Cleveland State (14-9, 7-7) with 10 points while Martinez had nine, Taylor added eight and Anthony finished with seven. Nicole Hassler led the Raiderettes with 13 points while Rameja Bell added nine.
Travis Jones, in his first game back after missing time with a broken foot, scored the first bucket of the night in the men’s contest after a steal by Ralph Eason to help the visitors to a 6-3 lead in the early going.
A three-point play by Chudier Pal and a three-pointer from Valentino Thomas spurred a Raider run as the home team surged into the lead. Trey Suttles converted a three-point play and added a nice assist to Eason midway through the half as the Cougars cut the lead to one point at 19-18.
The Raiders then went on an 11-0 run to take a 30-18 lead at the five minute mark. A left handed hook shot from Suttles and a trey from Jones helped the Cougars slice into the lead as they trailed 34-28 at halftime.
The teams traded buckets throughout the first 14 minutes of the second half as the Cougars still trailed by 13 points with 11 minutes to go and and by 10 at the seven minute mark.
A steal and layup from Eason seemed to give the Cougars the lift they needed as they slowly sliced the lead to single digits. Two straight driving layups from Jones cut the lead to five points and two more tough buckets in the paint by Suttles cut the lead to 71-69 with 45 ticks left on the clock.
A Raider turnover gave the Cougars one last shot with a chance to tie the game or win it with a three, but it was not to be on this night, as the Raiders were able to cause a turnover and then sink a pair of free throws to seal the win.
Eason and Suttles paced the Cougars (13-9, 7-7) with 18 points each, while Kahan Swift added 12 points and Jones finished with 11. Thomas led the Raiders with 16 points while Corey Harris added 13 and Pal had 11.
The Cougars will hit the road for their final road trip of the regular season for a date with Southwest Tennessee on Friday and another in Dyersburg on Saturday.