CSCC Sports Information Director
It wasn't easy or even a thing of beauty on Saturday afternoon as Cleveland State hosted Volunteer State, but it was a win for the eighth-ranked (in the latest NJCAA poll) Lady Cougars and sometimes the bottom line is all that matters.
The Lady Cougars dug a big hole that took most of the game to crawl out of, but in the end they managed to post a 59-55 win over the 22nd-ranked Lady Pioneers in a very physical matchup of nationally-ranked teams at L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium.
The Cougars were not as fortunate as they let a lead slip away and fell to the Pioneers by a final score of 88-79.
On Friday, the Lady Cougars came from behind once again to win going away, 64-46 over Motlow State, while the Cougars fell to the Bucks, 88-73.
For the fifth straight game the Lady Cougars started slowly Saturday but were able to stay close until halftime. The Lady Pioneers took a 13-5 lead to start the game but the home team was able to whittle that to 29-26 at the break.
As they have in each of the previous five games, the Lady Cougars emerged for the second half with a new intensity level as Mariah Lawrence nailed a big 3-pointer to give the home team its first lead of the day at 40-38. Cleveland State would never trail again, but it would get interesting down the stretch.
From there, Kierra Johnson took over for the Lady Cougars both inside and out of the paint as she nailed two straight 3s to help her team to a double digit lead, 57-46 with just over seven minutes to go.
Volunteer State was not done yet as they pulled within three points with a minute to go, but the Lady Cougars managed to knock down just enough free tosses to secure their unbeaten mark of 10-0 and 6-0 in conference play.
“If I had the answer for our slow starts, I would have already fixed it, “ explained Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. “We played an awfully good team today and came away with the win — I am very happy with that. We have to find a way to improve offensively, but that doesn't worry me as much, because I know we will.”
Johnson had a monster game with 23 points and nine rebounds while Lawrence added 13 points and Jessica Harper finished with eight to lead the Lady Cougars.
Uniquah Hampton paced Volunteer State (8-2, 3-2) with 11 points while Michaelea Kleist added 10.
Pioneers 88, Cougars 79
The men's contest seesawed back and forth throughout the first half with the Cougars managing to capture a 40-38 advantage by halftime.
A steal and a slam by Lortavious Smith early in the second half helped the Cougars go on a mini-run as they would take their largest lead of the game at 69-62 with just over 11 minutes to go.
But, from that point on the home team went ice cold from the floor with the much taller Pioneers taking over in the paint. A 20-5 Volunteer State run ensued as the Pioneers took control of the game. Jeremy Ford hit a 3-pointer for the Cougars to briefly give them a lead at the five minute mark, 74-73, but the Pioneers reeled off eight straight after that and cruised to the win.
Keith Johnson paced the Cougars (7-5, 1-5) with 21 points while Billy Thompson added 11.
Lady Cougars 64,
Lady Bucks 46
The Lady Cougars shook off a very cold shooting (36 percent) first half on Friday night to win going away. In fact, the Lady Bucks had upset on their minds as they opened the game with a 12-2 run, but the Lady Cougars warmed a bit and finally tied the game at 19-all midway through the first half and took their first lead at the five minute mark on a 3-point bomb from Stephanie Anderson.
Michelle Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a short jumper in the lane at the buzzer to give Cleveland State a slim, 32-30 lead at the break.
As they have done in the past several games, the Lady Cougars found the mark early and often to start the second half as they hit the Lady Bucks with a 22-8 run and never looked back. Takeya Day and Lawrence connected from downtown and Johnson took control of the paint as she poured in nine of her 15 points in the second half as the home team cruised to the 18 point win.
Johnson added 10 rebounds to go with her 15 points to lead the Lady Cougars while Davis added 12 points and seven boards. Anderson finished with 10 points and Day had her usual day at the office with nine points, nine steals and 10 assists.
Bucks 88, Cougars 73
The Cougars used a 13-0 run midway through the first half as Fitzgerald White and Keith Johnson nailed a 3-pointer each, to build a 24-11 lead. But, the Bucks then turned to their big man in the paint as Zemerius McClendon dominated the middle the rest of the night pouring in 16 points and grabbing nine boards in the first 20 minutes to help Motlow State catch the Cougars and tie the game at halftime, 39 all.
The Bucks picked up right where they left off with a 19-4 run to start the second half to build a 15 point lead. After a couple of timeouts and heart to heart talks from coach Cigliano, the Cougars righted the ship and mounted a comeback. White knocked down his fifth trey of the night with just under seven minutes to play to help the Cougars cut the lead to only three points at 67-64 and the home team had a shot to tie the game bounce off the back of the rim, but the comeback would end there.
Motlow (5-3, 3-1) then finished the contest with a 16 to 4 run, mostly on free throws, to capture the big conference win. McClendon led all scorers with 26 points and 14 boards while Daryn Frazier added 16 points for Motlow State. White led the Cougars with 17 points, Billy Thompson added 15 points while Johnson and Phillip Jenkins had 13 and 11 respectively.
The Lady Cougars will travel to Bryan College Tuesday while the Cougars will host Covenant College Wednesday.