By Anthony Rhoads
Two different Clayton State women's teams showed up to play in Wednesday's 69-55 victory over Claflin in the Heritage Bank Classic
First, there was the team that played the first 36-and-a-half minutes. That team was behind for much of the contest and at one time in the second half, trailed by eight points. But with about three-and-a-half minutes remaining, Shelcey Harp scored to give Clayton State a 56-55 lead. The basket began a 15-0 Clayton State run to end the game.
"I'm still trying to figure that one out,"Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox said. "The last three minutes, I don't know what happened. They really stepped it up."
Jamika Hindsman led Clayton State (7-3) with 21 points while Jasmine Patterson added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Brandi Catia chipped in 10 points.
Claflin (8-5) led for the vast majority of the first half and carried a 36-32 lead into halftime.
Claflin began the second half with a 6-2 run to take a 42-34 advantage but Clayton State began to chip into the lead.
With 13:57 remaining, Jasmine Patterson hit a 3-pointer to give Clayton State a 44-42 lead. Claflin managed to retake the lead with 9:45 remaining when Taffika Haynes made a 3-pointer to give her team a 50-48 advantage.
The teams traded the lead five more times before Clayton State took the lead for good with Harp's basket late in the contest.
Clayton State outscored Claflin 37-19 in the second half.
Four Claflin players finished in double figures including Lakisha Griffin with 13, Marvetta Edwards with 11 and Haynes and Sara Vollmer with 10 each.
Claflin shot 46.5 percent (20-of-43) from the floor while Clayton State made just 34.1 percent (30-of-88) of its shots. Clayton State outrebounded Claflin 54-36.
"We haven't been playing as consistent as I would like but what I do like about this team is how hard they work," Cox said. "I'm very blessed that coach (A.C.) McCullers left me a nice group of kids."
Clayton State plays Carson-Newman today at 3 p.m. in the tournament finals. Carson-Newman (8-1) advanced to the title game by beat Miles 74-49 Tuesday afternoon.
"They've impressed me; they have a well-rounded team," Cox said. "It's going to be a challenge for us. It's a big game not just because it's a tournament but it's a good test for us before we start play in the Peach Belt next Wednesday (at North Florida). I just wish we had a couple of days to practice before we play them."
Miles (0-9) plays Claflin today at 1 p.m. in the consolation game.