A pair of Region VII Conference showdowns were on the docket at L. Quentin Lane Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon as Cleveland State welcomed Columbia State to town. The Lady Cougars controlled the first game of the day and picked up a 65-54 win over the Lady Chargers, while the Cougars fell for the first time this season to the powerful Chargers on a last-second shot, 70-68.
On Friday night Cleveland State got the weekend festivities off on the right foot as they handed Jackson State a pair of losses. The Lady Cougars built a big halftime lead and then withstood a furious comeback by the Lady Generals to hold on for a 72-70 win. The Cougars won the battle of undefeated teams as they took care of the Generals in a big way by taking an impressive 103-75 win.
Matt Whitmire converted a three-point play as the Cougars took an 8-2 lead to start Saturday's game. The Chargers then warmed quickly and took advantage of their height advantage in the paint to erase the lead with an 11-0 run to take a 13-8 lead.
Arturs Bremers hit three shots from downtown and Justin Pride slashed through the Cougars defense for three layups as the visitors opened up as much as an 11 point lead.
The Chargers converted five of six free tosses in the final seconds of the half to take a 38-26 lead at the break. The Cougars shot only 37 percent from the floor in the first half while the Chargers shot 56 percent.
The Cougars opened the second half with an 8-2 run. The teams traded buckets over the next nine minutes when a 3-pointer from Robert Brandon helped the home team cut the lead to two points, 51-49 with just under 10 minutes to go.
The Chargers rebuilt their lead to an eight point bulge, 66-58 at the four minute mark, but the Cougars promptly went on an 8-0 run to tie the game with just over two minutes to play as Travis Wildgoose entered the highlight film with a monster rebound and slam dunk.
With the game tied at 68, the Cougars had a chance at the lead, but a shot and two tips rolled off the rim before the Chargers could capture the rebound. Pride dribbled out the final 20 seconds, drove the lane and lofted up a prayer that was answered for the winning bucket at the two second mark. A final heave from the home team hit the rim, but came off as the Cougars dropped their first game of the season.
Tyus led the Cougars (6-1, 3-1) with 15 points, Kahan Swift had 12 points, Brandon added 10 while Ethan Hayes and Dontae Lippert had eight apiece. Pride paced the Chargers (8-0, 4-0)with 20 points, Matt Smith added 16 and Bremers finished with 14.
Brittany Ramsey dropped in six quick points and Jamesha Mosley added a pair of layups as the Lady Cougars jumped out to a 12-4 lead to start the ladies contest on Saturday.
Anika Nottingham hit three shots in the paint and Joznika Johnson added a pair of 3-pointers for the Lady Chargers as they sliced the lead to three points, 24-21 near the end of the half. Ramsey added two more of her 11 first half points with four seconds to go to give the home team a 26-21 halftime advantage.
A 15-5 run by the Lady Cougars would provide all the cushion they would need to start the second half as Jara Gasper led the charge and poured in all 11 of her points in the final 20 minutes of play. Aysia Grimsley, Katrice Harris and Markiesha Campbell added a pair of buckets each as the Lady Cougars cruised to the win.
"We didn't play particularly well in the first half," said Lady Cougar coach Dan Lumpkin. "But, anytime you can get two conference wins you are happy, so I am pleased."
Ramsey led the way for the Lady Cougars (6-1, 3-1) with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals while Mosley and Harris added eight points apiece. Nottingham paced the Lady Chargers (2-5, 1-3) with 14 points, Lamarra Gordon added 13 and Johnson had 12.
On Friday night, Mosley came up with two straight steals and layups to help the Lady Cougars start the game with a 13-4 run as they would never trail in the contest the rest of the way.
The home team slowly increased its led as Krista King nailed her second trey of the half to give her team a commanding 38-22 advantage. Brandi Whitted let fly with a 3 of her own at the buzzer to give Cleveland State a 45-31 halftime lead.
The Lady Generals stepped up their powerful inside game in the second half as they whittled away at the Lady Cougar lead. A 9-0 run at the 12 minute mark sliced the lead into single digits at 51-45. The Lady Cougars then regrouped as Harris converted a layup and Jasmin Fuqua hit a long three-pointer.
The Lady Generals just kept coming though, as Nikki Cole continued her dominance of the paint pouring in 12 of her 16 points down the stretch.
The Lady Cougars held an eight point lead with four minutes to play, but a 10-2 run by the visitors set the stage for some tense moments on the Cleveland State bench as the lead had dwindled down to two points, 70-68 with 45 ticks left on the clock.
Mosley and Ramsey managed to hit a free toss each and then held off a furious flurry of missed shots and tips in the final six seconds to finally finish off the win.
"Jackson's rebounding in the second half keyed their comeback," said a relieved Lady Cougar Lumpkin. "They are a really good team and we knew they would make a run, but we hoped that we could answer and it got tight at the end and we were fortunate to survive and get a win."
Mosley paced the Lady Cougars with 18 points, Fuqua added 12 points while Grimsley and Ramsey added nine each. Chelsea Wyatt and Victoria Douglas led the Lady Generals (3-2, 1-2) with 20 points each while Cole finished with 16.
The lead changed hands seven times in the early going, but a 7-0 run by the Cougars gave the home team a lead that they would never relinquish. Kendrick Williams was the spark plug for the Cougars all night long as he nailed a pair of long range shots early in the contest while Stetson Moore canned a tri-fecta of treys late in the half including one at the buzzer to give the Cougars a 48-38 halftime lead.
The Cougars increased their lead in the second half when the game took a strange turn. With the Cougars leading by a count of 67-53, play turned physical and off-setting technicals were assessed. The Jackson State coach proceeded to blow a gasket and, when the dust had settled, the coach had been ejected and the Cougars pushed their lead to a 20-point bulge after four technical free tosses.
The Generals made one last run as they cut the lead to 11 points, but the Cougars put the game on ice with a 13-2 run down the stretch highlighted by a thunderous slam dunk from Travis Wildgoose and another from Dontae Lippert to seal the big Conference win and in the process hand the Generals their first loss of the year.
"We got contributions from a lot of guys tonight, and that's what you have to have to win tough conference games," said Cigliano. "The final score does not indicate how close the game was, it's still early, but we beat a good team tonight and played reasonably well."
Williams led the way for the Cougars with 27 points, Lippert chipped in with 19, Keevin Tyus added 18 and Moore finished with 12. Broderick Davis paced the Generals (4-1, 2-1) with 25 points while JaMichael McKinnie added 17.
The Lady Cougars will travel to Milligan College on Tuesday and both teams will travel to Middle Tennesee next weekend for a big conference matchup with Motlow State on Friday night and then at Volunteer State on Saturday afternoon.