The Lady Cougars took care of business as they beat Dyersburg State Friday night by a final score of 79-65 and then outlasted the tall trees and rough play of the Lady Saluqis Saturday by a final tally of 70-61.
The Cougars beat the Eagles Friday by a surprisingly easy final score of 96-69, but fell to a much taller pack of Saluqis Saturday by a final count of 95-85.
The Lady Cougars opened Saturday’s game with an 11-4 run as Mariah Lawrence started things off with a long 3-pointer and Kierra Johnson added a pair of tough shots in the paint. The Lady Saluqis then turned to their decided height advantage in the paint to rally into the lead.
Lady Cougar Sharekyia Wyatt hit a free throw and a layup just before the break to cut the difference to 31-29.
Opening the second half with a 12-0 run, Cleveland State turned a two-point deficit into a 10 point lead to start the second half with a 12-0 run which would turn out to be the difference in the game.
Lawrence led the way for Cleveland State with 16 point, Johnson was right behind with 14 points and 13 boards, Day finished with 11 points and Michelle Davis added 10.
“Overall it was two big wins to start the conference season off,” explained Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. “The history of Southwest Tennessee is huge and this is the third straight time that we have beaten them. Some of our freshmen don’t realize how big this win is. They are so big inside that it caused us a lot of problems, but we did what we do best and came out on top.”
Saluqis 95, Cougars 85
Fitzgerald White hit two of the six Cougar 3s in the first half and Keith Johnson picked up 12 points, but the tall trees in the paint for the 15th-ranked Saluqis were toomuch to overcome as they led by 19 at the half.
The Cougars made a couple of runs in the second half as Terrell Parks poured in four of his five 3s and Phillip Jenkins added a pair of his own, but it would not be enough on this night as the Saluqis cruised to the win.
Johnson led the Cougars with 21 points while Parks, Jenkins and Jamial King each tossed in 15 points.
“Last night, it was good to open conference play with a win,” said Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. “We played with good energy, it was a good team effort and a good team win. Today, when you play a team as good and as big as Southwest, you have to play really well to stay in the game. We stayed with them for a while, but their size took over and was the difference today.”
Lady Cougars 79, Lady Eagles 65
On Friday night, the Lady Cougars hit their guest with an 18-7 run to start the game and never looked back.
Leading by 10 at the half, Cleveland State sizzled the nets to the tune of 50 percent in the second half.
Johnson had her usual night at the office for the Lady Cougars with 25 points and 13 boards. Day finished with 13 points, seven steals and seven assists, and Davis added 11 points.
Cougars 96, Eagles 69
The Cougars started slowly, but then finally caught high gear and hit their guests with a 19-4 run midway to help them to a 47-31 halftime edge.
Lortavious Smith led five Cougars in double figures with 17 points, White followed with 14 points, Gore added 13 points and nine boards, while Johnson and Thompson finished with 11 and 10 points respectively. Zabian Sanders paced the Eagles with 14 points.
The Cougars will host Covenant College on Wednesday at 7 and both squads will travel to Jackson and Columbia next Friday and Saturday.