Lakeland advance in conference tournament with 86-76 win over Columbus State
BY TIM SHIRER SPORTS EDITOR (KIRTLAND, OH) - In the past under head coach Terry Bowe the Lakeland Lakers men's basketball team cruised into the conference tournament with relative ease and had a pretty easy time in the first round. This season for coach Bowe's Laker's has been anything but a breeze as the team entered its first round tournament game against Columbus State (11-13) on a two game losing streak and an overall record of 14-13.
Fortunately for the Lakers things were more like past seasons on Tuesday night as they easily took down the Cougars 86-76 to advance to round two of the OCCAC Tournament.
The Lakers and Cougars met on February 24th and the Cougars came out on top in a close game 71-68. The Cougars with only seven players in that game led most of the way.
On Tuesday night the script was turned, even though the Cougars fought hard and were shorthanded once again the Lakers led most of the game.
The game was tied 25-25 with 10:05 left in the first half, the game was never tied again. The Lakers went on a 22-10 run to finish the first half and take a 47-35 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
Laker's sophomore Marcus Fleming led all scorers in the first half with 16 points. Chris Cook Jr. paced the Cougars in the first half with 12 points.
The second half was nearly the same, but the Cougars cut the lead to five points at 75-70 with 3:06 left when Cook Jr. hit one of two free throws.
From there the Lakers held on and increased the lead in the final 3:06 to win the game by ten points.
The Laker's Fleming led everyone in the game in scoring with 29 points. Jordan Morrow led the Cougars in the loss with 23 points.
Coach Bowe commented that the difference in the game tonight as opposed to the meeting last month was the fact, "We had more energy tonight." Coach Bowe went on to comment about the situation of the Cougars playing with only seven players, "You have to give Columbus State credit, they stayed with us. He's a good young coach."
Lakeland will now move on to the tournament semi-finals on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. in Columbus against Cincinnati State who is the number one seed in the tournament and enters the game with a 25-3 record.