Stephanie Anderson and Kierra Johnson nailed a 3-pointer each to give the Lady Cougars an early 6-2 lead. But for the rest of the first half, momentum seesawed back and forth as the game was either tied or the lead changed hands 11 times.
Portia Durrett hit a pair of buckets in the paint for the Lady Senators, but Lady Cougar Mariah Lawrence hit a long 3-pointer and Johnson added her second trey to help CSCC hold a 28-26 halftime advantage.
The Lady Senators started the second half with an 18-2 run and the Lady Cougars went ice cold after shooting 41 percent in the first half while holding the home team to only 29 percent.
Trailing by 15 points with just over eight minutes to play, the Lady Cougars suddenly came to life. Anderson began to rain 3-pointers, connecting three times from downtown to slice the lead into single digits.
Another 3-point bomb from Mariah Lawrence cut the lead to four points at 53-49. At the 1:45 mark, Michelle Davis cut it to one point, 53-52, with 34 ticks left with a trey of her own. Trailing by three points with 13 seconds left, the Lady Cougars saw two attempts to tie the game bounce off the rim and the Lady Senators held on for the win.
Anderson paced the Lady Cougars (20-5, 13-5) with 14 points, Takeya Day added 12 points and four steals while Davis finished with 10 points. Durrett led the Lady Senators (20-5, 15-3) with 15 points and 11 boards while Jama Hammontree added 11.
The Cougars and the Senators traded buckets in the early going as made baskets were few and far between. Keith Johnson hit a 3-pointer and added a steal and layup to give the visitors an 18-15 lead at the 5:45 mark. Jamial King tossed in a pair of tough shots in the paint and Terrell Parks added a highlight-film-worthy driving layup as Cleveland State held a 27-23 halftime lead.
The Cougars started the second half with a 13-6 run to take their largest lead of the game, 40-29. Johnson and Gerard Gore hit a pair of buckets in the paint during the run and Terrell Parks nailed a 3-pointer moments later to push the lead back to double digits.
The Senators made a couple of runs down the stretch but were never able to draw closer than seven points as the Cougars responded to each run with a run of their own. Phillip Jenkins and Gore hit a pair of buckets each and the Cougars hit just enough free tosses to secure the win.
Johnson led the Cougars (12-14, 5-13) with 19 points and Jenkins added 11. Lamar McKnight led the Senators with 19 points while Desmond Crisp had 12.