After sweeping a pair of games from Columbia State Friday night, the Lady Cougars (4-3, 2-2) repeated their impressive win on Friday with a 61-41 win over the Jackson State Lady Generals. The Cougars (7-0, 4-0), meanwhile, needed a pair of clutch last second baskets and two overtime periods to put away the Generals in the men’s contest to remain undefeated on the season with a 111-101 triumph and in the process win for the first time ever in Jackson.
“This is one of the best games that I have seen in my years at Cleveland State,” explained Cougar coach Lee Cigliano. “It was back and forth from beginning to end; Jackson is really good. Also, this is the first time we have ever won at Jackson State.”
The Generals flexed their considerable muscles in the paint early in the contest as they opened up with a nine-point advantage. The Cougars came right back to tie the game as the lead changed hands six times the rest of the first half before the Generals could take a 47-43 lead at the break.
It was more of the same in the second half as it resembled a heavyweight fight at times with each team taking turns making runs. Jackson State moved out to a seven point lead, 60-53 at the 13-minute mark, but the Cougars came right back to tie the game moments later.
The home team found itself at the free-throw line with eight seconds to go and a one point lead. One of two free tosses made it a two point advantage. But with the clock winding down, Travis Jones grabbed the rebound, drove the length of the court and laid the ball up and in to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Jackson State went right back out to the lead in the first overtime period and once again the Cougars caught up.
Déjà vu struck again as the Generals had a one point lead and hit only one-of-two free throws. This time it was Philipe Goncalves who provided the clutch bucket with only one second left on the clock, driving the lane for a tying layup at the buzzer to force a second OT period.
A 12-0 run in the second extra period finally put the Cougars on top to stay as they outlasted the Generals to capture the hard-fought win.
“We just finally outlasted them,” stated Cigliano. “Our guys were determined and just wouldn’t quit. It’s still early in the season and I always say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, but this is a pretty good start and two good tests for us on the road.”
Jones once again led the way for the Cougars with 31 points, Ralph Eason checked in with a triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, Trey Suttles added 21 points to the cause while Gabe Dando and Kahan Swift finished with 11 points each. Braxton Gillespie paced the Generals with 25 points, JaMichael McKinnie had 24 and Tyler Black added 19.
“We got contributions from the everyone,” the coach continued. “Travis and Ralph were outstanding, but Philipe may have been the difference in the game. He outhustled them to the ball, came up with big steals, had a huge dunk and just kept coming up with the big play when we needed one.”
LADY COUGARS 61, LADY GENERALS 41
The Lady Cougars took an early lead and slowly but surely increased it the rest of the game. Chelsea Jones and Ciera Anderson took control of the paint and never let go as the visitors would take a 39-23 halftime lead.
Cleveland State turned up the defense in the second half allowing the Lady Generals only 18 points the rest of the way. Mercedes Owens and Robyn Anthony led the charge as the Cleveland State ladies evened their conference mark and made it two-for-two on the road trip with a 20 point win.
Jones paced the Lady Cougars with 12 points, Anthony and Owens added 11 points apiece and Anderson had nine. Kylan Crain led the Lady Generals with seven points while Victoria Douglas, Samantha Smith, Michaela Thompson and LeAnn Baggett all had six points each.