The good news was that the Cougars dominated the Walters State Senators from start to finish and ran away with an 88-62 win.
The bad news was the seventh ranked Lady Senators of Walters State left no doubts about their lofty ranking with a dominating performance in the ladies contest with a convincing 85-54 win over the Lady Cougars.
The Cougars started the men's contest with an 8-2 run and never looked back. Ralph Eason poured in 10 of the first 18 Cougar points including a slam dunk on a fast break after a nice assist from Filipe Goncalves. Gabe Dando found the range from downtown early and often as he hit on a tri-fecta of threes to help the home team open up a 28-12 lead midway through the half.
The Senators sliced the lead to a 14 point spread near the end of the first half with an 8-0 run, but the Cougars answered with eight straight of their own as Jameico McPherson hit a short jumper while Dantario Dansby and Kahan Swift hit a 3-pointer each with Swifts coming at the buzzer to push the Cleveland State lead back to a 20 point bulge at the break 49-29.
The Cougars sizzled the nets to the tune of 60 percent in the first half and out-rebounded the much taller Senators 19-13 while committing only four turnovers.
Same verse, second chapter as the Cougars ran away and hid from their guests in the second half. Gabe Dando put on a show with four more bombs from three-point land while Trey Suttles and Xavier Okoro took turns tossing in shots in the paint. The Senators made a couple of mini-runs and cut the lead to 12 points at one time, but never really threatened after that as the Cougars cruised to the surprisingly easy win.
Cleveland State shot an incredible 60 percent for the game and hit 11-of-25 shots from behind the arc. The Cougars also won the battle of the boards 34-23. Dando led the way for the Cougars (13-8, 7-6) with 21 points, Suttles was next with 18 points and seven rebounds, Eason finished with 15 points and 13 assists while Okoro and Goncalves added 11 and 10 points respectively. Cedarius Taylor and Leland Robinson paced the Senators (12-15, 6-10) with 16 points each while Elgrin Wilson added 10.
LADY SENATORS 85,
LADY COUGARS 54
Both teams were ice cold to start the ladies contest. Walters State scored the first six points while the Lady Cougars didn't dent the scoreboard until nearly five minutes had passed. Robyn Anthony finally knocked down a 3-pointer and added a layup as the home team warmed a bit.
Me'Lisa Martinez nailed a shot from downtown and Carly Fetzer added an old fashioned three-point play in the paint while Shea Nunn and Jasmine Davis chipped in with a bucket each to help the Lady Cougars cut the lead to only two points, 19-17 with just over five minutes to go in the first half.
The wakeup call was apparently received on the Lady Senator bench as they picked up the pace drastically and hit the Lady Cougars with a 22-2 run to finish the half and turn a two-point game into a 41-19 halftime lead. Jasmine McAlister and Tangela Crenshaw did most of the damage during the run in the paint as the home team had no answer for the much taller Lady Senators. Walters State shot 54 percent in the first half while holding Cleveland State to only 25 percent.
The Lady Senators ran away and hid in the second half as their athletic ability took over. Aisjah Roan and Caprisha Rogers nailed a trey each while Donnesha Shuler, MiShannon Wilbanks and McAlister all took turns dominating the paint on both ends of the court. Jara Gasper and Chelsea Jones hit a three ball each as the Lady Cougars got within 14 points of the lead, but the Lady Senators put it on cruise control the rest of the way to secure the win.
Walters State (24-1, 16-0) out-rebounded the Lady Cougars 46-25 and shot 51 percent for the game and caused 18 turnovers. Crenshaw led six Lady Senators in double digit scoring with 19 points and 16 rebounds, Shuler and Roan were next with 13 points apiece, Wilbanks finished with 11 while Rogers and McAlister added 10 points each. Jones paced Cleveland State (13-9, 6-7) with 12 points while Anthony added nine.
Cleveland State will travel to Roane State on Saturday at 2 p.m.