From staff reports
After a sluggish first half Saturday, the Clayton College & State University men's basketball team opened the second half on a mission and a 16-0 run, en route to a 65-56 Peach Belt Conference win over the University of South Carolina Spartanburg at the Athletics & Fitness Center.
Clayton State picked up its defensive intensity in the run, holding the Rifles scoreless for the first seven minutes of the second half and held USCS to 23 percent (6-of-26) shooting in the period to overcome a 34-32 deficit at halftime. USC Spartanburg shot 61 percent (14-of-23) in the first half.
"At halftime, I told our guys, it's really hard to tell we are a defensive team by the first half statistics," said CCSU head coach Gordon Gibbons. "I really challenged them to pick up the intensity, and they responded and went to war in the second half."
Former Mt. Zion High standout Lamar Rodgers capped the 16-0 run with two of his game high 17 points, giving the Lakers a 14-point, 48-34, lead with 13:01 remaining. Rodgers' 17 points, included five three pointers and was one shy of tying a school record for three-pointers in a game. His 17 points also matched a career high for him set last season and was the second time this year that he hit five three-pointers in a game.
"Today was Lamar's birthday, and he celebrated it well," said Gibbons. "He hit some timely threes in the first half to keep us close and came back in the second half to hit a couple of big ones to hold them off."
With the win, the Lakers improve to 16-5 overall and 6-4 in the Peach Belt. USCS drops to 9-12 on the year and 2-8 in the league. Clayton State will put its 12-0 home record on the line, hosting rival and Peach Belt leader Kennesaw State on Wednesday in a 7:30 p.m. game.
Behind Rodgers' 17 points, on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and 5-of-9 shooting from three-point territory, senior Craig Butts posted his fourth "double-double" of the season with 13 points and a game high 10 rebounds.
Junior Darien Chavis chipped in 11 points.
USC Spartanburg 70, CCSU 62, OT (women): The Clayton College & State University women's basketball team dropped a tough one in overtime Saturday, falling 70-62 to the University of South Carolina Spartanburg at home.
Each team traded baskets early in the first half, until Clayton State went on an 11-4 run to go up 30-20 at halftime behind Kate Kauffman and Cynthia Conseil, who led the way for the Lakers with nine points each in the first half.
Clayton State pushed its lead to 11 points in the second half with 18:39 remaining, but the Rifles went on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 37-37 at the 9:27 mark.
The Lakers then scored two three-point baskets to regain a four-point lead, 46-42. The Rifles answered back and tied the game at 46-46 on a jumper by Yakeeshia Ross. A shot by April Taylor helped the Lakers to a 53-48 lead with 3:43 remaining.
With 2:23 left in the game, USC-Spartanburg enjoyed its first lead 53-54, since the 13:32 mark in the first half after a free throw by Manuel, an offensive rebound by Ross, and a 3-point shot by Sara Jansen (Woodbridge, VA).
Kauffman gave the Lakers a one-point advantage, 55-54, 12 seconds later.