The Lady Cougars overcame a cold-shooting first half to win going away by a final score of 80-55, while the Cougars fought off the Christmas rust and a very tall and determined band of Crusaders to take a 72-61 victory.
The Cougars were almost as cold as the frigid weather on the outside in the first half as they shot only 36 percent from the floor compared to 50 percent for the hot-shooting Crusaders.
The visitors nailed a pair of 3s midway through the half to take their largest lead at 27-20. The Cougars countered with a pair of long-range shots from Stetson Moore and two more from Robert Brandon, slicing the lead to a single bucket by halftime with the Crusaders leading 37-35.
The Crusaders zipped right back out to an eight-point lead to open the second half as the Cougars just couldn't seem to get their offense going.
Trailing 54-46 with just over eight minutes to play in the game, the Cougars suddenly came to life and proceeded to go on a 19-2 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a nine point lead in less than four minutes of game time.
Keevin Tyus took control of the paint with a variety of moves, pouring in eight big points during the run including a slam dunk. Travis Wildgoose took to the air for an alley-oop pass from Jackie Hale to rattle the rim giving the home team a 68-58 lead.
That turned out to be the difference in the contest as the Cleveland State defense allowed only four more points the rest of the way and the home team posted the 11-point win.
"I am very frustrated with the way we played tonight," explained Cougars coach Lee Cigliano. "We didn't put forth the effort tonight; we got the win and did just enough at the end to get the win, but if these guys want to improve and go on to a four-year school, they have got to work harder and give the effort, and they didn't tonight. The score was insignificant; we have got to learn to work harder and give maximum effort the entire game."
Tyus paced the Cougars (8-5) with 18 points, Brandon added 13 points while Moore and Wildgoose finished with 11 and 10 points respectively. Wildgoose added 12 boards to the cause. The Cougars shot 35 percent for the game and held the Crusaders to only 25 percent shooting in the second half. Dave Tackett led the Crusaders with 16 points while Shaun Patrick and Lance Nicks added 15 points each.
LADY COUGARS 80,
LADY CRUSADERS 55
It took the Lady Cougars (13-1) more than 18 minutes to finally shake off the Christmas break rust as the Lady Crusaders held an 18-15 lead with a minute and a half to play in the first half.
Aysia Grimsley sparked a late run and helped the Lady Cougars get on track with three straight layups, a steal and a long three-pointer as the home team finished the half on a 17-4 run to turn the deficit into a 32-21 halftime advantage.
The Lady Cougars ran away and hid from their guests in the second half as Jamesha Mosley poured in 12 of her 16 points and Markiesha Campbell tossed in all 10 of her points in the paint.
Tre'Ketta Bonds dropped in six points in the paint while Brandi Whitted, Katrice Harris and Jara Gasper all dented the scoring column to help the Lady Cougars post their first win of 2014 in convincing fashion.
Grimsley led the way for the Lady Cougars with 19 points, Mosley added 18 points and six rebounds, Campbell added 10 points while Harris and Gasper finished with nine points each. Brandi Ebert paced the Lady Crusaders with 19 points while Steffi Monroe added 17.
Both Cleveland State teams will jump back into conference play January 15th hosting Roane State.