The Lady Lakers traveled to Columbus State today and came away with a hard fought 81-73 victory. With the win, Lakeland improves to 17-1 and 6-0 in the conference. The Cougars fall to 13-4 and 4-1 in the OCCAC. The game was played at a very fast paced early on and the Cougars jumped out to a 39-35 first half lead. The Cougars used a high pressure defense that gave the Lakers some difficulty early in the game. The game was kept in check though as sophomore point guard Julie Hajdu was able to keep control of the tempo and help the Lakers keep their composure. Lakeland also had a strong inside presence throughtout the game which allowed them to ward off Columbus State. The Cougars did a lot of their scoring from beyond the arc shooting 10-17 for the game.
In the second half, the Lakers took control and built leads by as many as 10 points. Each time, Columbus State answered and were triggered by their efficient three point shooting. In the end, the Lakers were able to maintain their intensity to force stops as well as take advantage of the Cougars in the paint. Leading the way for the Lakers offensively was Armani Jackson as she finished with 29 points and 20 rebounds. Makayla Cooper had a strong game off the bench as she scored 18 points and added 4 rebounds with 5 assists. Gianna Pegoraro finished the game with 15 points while shooting 8-10 from the line. Hajdu finished with 7 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. Triniti Lee scored 4 points and chipped with 8 rebounds off the bench. Rayonna Peterson recorded 6 points in the victory. The Lakers struggled from the free throw line today shooting just under 69% (22-32).
Gardy's Gab: "The game had a pretty good pace eary on. They put a lot of pressure on us. Julie handled it well; however as a team, we had more turnovers than normal. We have to give them credit for that. Our size was key in the game, but Columbus just kept fighting back in the second half. They are a gritty team. The Cougars are a good team and were definitely a good challenge for us. I was disappointed at the number of points we left at the line. Defensively we were able to mix some things up a bit and that really helped. We need to continue to improve and work toward playing a complete 40 minutes. We'll get back at it and get ready for Owens on Wednesday."
Next up: The Lakers return home on Wednesday as they will play host to the Owens Express in a 5:30 tilt. On Saturday, Feb. 1, the Lakers will play host to Edison State in a 1:00 tip-off. Admission to all Laker games is free.