LaGrange, Ga. — The Cleveland State Lady Cougars made their second straight trip to Georgia to open the season and this one was more successful than the first.
The Cleveland ladies notched win No. 1 with a hard-fought 72-66 win over the West Georgia Tech Lady Knights.
“It was another tough, physical game,” commented Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. “We maintained a lead throughout the game from beginning to end, but they just kept coming at us. We built as much as a 17-point lead, but they didn’t give up and made it interesting at the end. We finished it out and won, but it was tough.”
The Lady Cougars shot a sizzling 50 percent from the floor in the first half, hitting 12-of-24 shots. Chelsea Jones, Shea Nunn and Mercedes Owens all connected from behind the 3-point line as the Lady Cougars built a 10-point advantage on their way to a 36-28 halftime lead.
The relentless pressure defense by the Lady Knights was a thorn in the side of the Lady Cougars all game long, leading to 13 Cleveland State turnovers in each half. Jara Gasper led a second half Cleveland State surge with three long-range shots as the Lady Cougars’ lead grew steadily to a 17-point bulge.
Sha’ron Forte and Ta’corria Mann led a fast and furious comeback for West Georgia and helped whittle the Lady Cougars’ lead down to single digits in the final minutes, but the Lady Cougars were able to hit just enough free tosses down the stretch to secure the hard fought win.
Cleveland State missed more free throws than the Lady Knights attempted (17), hitting 21 of 38 while the home team hit only 9 of 16. West Georgia won the battle on the boards 49-46, had 17 turnovers and shot 34 percent for the game. Cleveland State shot 45 percent for the game.
“C.J. did a good job on both ends, Jara played well and Shea Nunn came off the bench and did a good job on the boards, and that’s what we have to have from her,” Lumpkin continued. “We turned the ball over way too much. They had some really good guards that gave us trouble all night long. They would come out of nowhere and were all over the ball; a lot of contact was allowed and that helped them a lot. Hopefully these tough, physical games will help us in conference play, but we’ll see.”
Jones led the Lady Cougars (1-1) with a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards. Gasper added 14 points and seven rebounds, Robyn Anthony had 10 points and Hannah Brown finished with eight. Forte led the Lady Knights with 17 points, Mann had 13 and Shanka Pennamon and Nicole Marshall added 11 each.
The Lady Cougars will now get ready for conference play as Southwest Tennessee comes to town on Friday for a 6 p.m. tipoff. Dyersburg State will roll in on Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader beginning at 2.
All four games can be watched live on the Web via the Cougar Sports Network by going to the Cleveland State website and following the links.