The Cleveland State Lady Cougars took care of the home hardwood on a rainy Saturday afternoon matinee of basketball at L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium by handing the Motlow State Lady Bucks a 67-61 loss.
The Cougars stayed close to the Bucks in the men’s contest, but couldn’t get a break down the stretch and dropped a tough 60-52 decision to their guests.
Both the Cougars and Lady Cougars settled for a split of their weekend games as the Lady Cougars fell 60-51 to Volunteer State on Friday night while the Cougars took care of the Pioneers in notching an 87-82 win.
The Lady Cougars will travel to Alabama Wednesday to face Snead State before both CSCC squads hit the road to Chattanooga State Saturday for a 2 p.m. showdown with the Tigers. Saturday’s games can be seen live online via the Cougar Sports Network by going to the Cleveland State website and clicking on “Athletics” and on “Listen live.”
A pair of nice driving layups from Jessica Harper got the Lady Cougars off and running to start Saturday’s game. The relentless defensive pressure from the Lady Bucks then took over midway through the first half and Emily Rivers got hot from 3-point land at the same time, producing a 20-6 run and a 26-15 Motlow lead.
The Lady Bucks hit seven shots from downtown in the first half with Rivers garnering four of them, and her 18 points helped the visitors build a 38-30 halftime advantage. Although Cleveland State shot an amazing 63 percent from the floor to 48 for Motlow, the Lady Bucks controlled the boards thus leading to many more shot opportunities.
Cleveland State scored eight of the first 10 second-half points to quickly close the gap. The game remained close for the next several minutes as the lead changed hands on several different occasions. A 3-point play from Harper put the home team on top with just over eight minutes to go and a pair of free tosses from Chelsea Jones put Cleveland State on top again moments later.
After another trey and layup from Rivers put Motlow back on top, Jones claimed the paint as her own and made her living from the free-throw line down the stretch. With just over a minute to go, Harper put a nail in the coffin with a long range bomb to put Cleveland State on top for good. Jones hit 10-of-13 free tosses in crunch time and 13-of-17 overall to seal the big conference win.
“The girls played a full 40 minutes today, and that’s what we’ve been stressing all along,” stated Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. “Jessica and Chelsea were unbelievable and we’ve had so many injuries that they’ve got to step up, and they did today. It was a total team win and we are glad to get it.”
Jones led the way for the Lady Cougars with 24 points, Harper added 19 and Morgan Rogers finished with nine. Rivers paced the Lady Bucks (8-9, 5-7) with 25 points. Cleveland State shot a cool 50 percent for the game while holding Motlow to only 35 percent.
Bucks 60, Cougars 52
The Cougars jumped out to an 11-5 advantage as made baskets from either team were few and far between in the first half. A pair of tough buckets in the paint by Barry Griffin and a layup each from Nick Ross and Travis Jones helped the Cougars gain the lead midway through the period. A tip-in from Keith Johnson and a layup from Gerard Gore helped the Cougars stay close.
The inside-outside combination of John Taylor and Ricky Tisdale capped a mini-run by the Bucks toward the end of the half that would propel the visitors to a slim 28-25 halftime lead. Cleveland State shot just 29 percent in the first half compared to 47 percent for the Bucks.
The Cougars stayed right on the Bucks’ heels throughout most of the second half and briefly took a 43-40 lead midway through the stanza on a pair of tough layups from Ross. The Bucks then countered with a 13-3 run to recapture the lead for good. The Cougars fought to the bitter end, cutting the lead to only three points down the stretch, but could not quite get over the hump. The Bucks hit just enough free tosses down the stretch to secure the win and gain a split of the day’s games.
Ross paced the Cougars with 18 points and Jones finished with 15. Tisdale led the Bucks (11-8, 5-7) with 16 points while John Taylor added 10.
Cougars 87, Pioneers 82
Nick Ross sizzled the nets early and often to start the men’s contest. Ross canned a pair of 3’s to help the Cougars get off and running to an 8-2 lead. The tall trees in the paint for the Pioneers then warmed up a bit over the next eight minutes of play as the game was tied or the lead changed hands 10 times.
Two more shots from downtown from Ross, including one seemingly from the parking lot and another from three rows up in the bleachers, helped the Cougars finish the first half on a 15-5 run and take a 36-27 lead at the break. Ross had 19 points in the first half including five treys, while the Cougars shot an amazing 56 percent from the floor while holding Volunteer to only 34 percent.
Ross picked right up where he left off with another 3-pointer and a 3-point play, before the Volunteer defense finally put two people on him. Travis Jones then took over in a big way as the Cougar point guard sliced and diced his way through the Pioneer defense the rest of the night.
Jones tossed in an incredible 32 points in the second half as he drove relentlessly to the bucket while usually getting tossed to the floor by the tall trees in the paint and then beating a path to the free-throw line where he knocked down 17-of-19 charity tosses.
The Cougars maintained a seven- to nine-point lead for much of the second half as they withstood several Pioneer runs. Hunter Harris and David Woodard converted a 3-point play each down the stretch to make things interesting in the final seconds, but the Cougars hit their free throws to seal the hard-fought win.
Cleveland State shot 59 percent for the game and in the rebound column the two teams were even, which was a definite plus for the much shorter Cougars. Jones finished with a career high 39 points, while Ross added 27 to the cause to lead the Cougars. Harris paced the Pioneers (13-8, 4-7) with 23 points while Woodard added 19.
“This was a big win for us after the way they handled us at their place earlier in the season,” stated Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. “They are so big in the middle, I though our guys fought hard and did a great job against them, especially in the paint. We were even on rebounds, which is astonishing. Travis and Nick did most of the scoring and they played great, but it really was a team effort tonight.”
Lady Pioneers 60
Lady Cougars 51
Friday night the Lady Cougars gave the Lady Pioneers all they could handle and then some in the first half. Shanavian Woodland and Shea Nunn sparked an early run by the home team as each lady hit a shot in the lane then added a long-range bomb to help Cleveland State to a 19-8 lead midway through the opening half.
The Lady Pioneers then came to life and finished the half with a 10-2 run as Katie Bliss hit a pair of 3’s to cut the Cleveland State lead to 21-18 at the break.
Volunteer State picked right up where it left off with an 11-3 run to start the second half. Hannah Brown nailed a long-range trey for the Lady Cougars midway through the half to tie the game at 34-34. Brown hit three long shots in the second half and the Lady Cougars hit eight in all, but from there it was all Volunteer State as the Lady Pioneers went on a 16-2 run to seal the win.
Brown finished with 11 points to lead Cleveland State (9-12, 3-10), Woodland added nine points and 10 boards while Jessica Harper had nine points. Bliss paced Volunteer State (15-6, 7-4) with 17 points, Natasha West had 15 and Heather Vann finished with 12.