From staff reports
It was "Senior Night 2004" Saturday at Clayton College & State University's Athletics & Fitness Center and the signature Laker defense reigned supreme on the special evening.
Clayton State blasted Peach Belt Conference foe Georgia College & State University 68-36, capturing its 20th win on the season, the first time the program has won 20 games in nine years. The victory also tied the team for third place in the PBC South Division with a 10-6 record.
The Lakers tied with Armstrong State for third place in the Division but will receive the No. 3 seed from the South Division in next week's PBC tournament, holding the tiebreaker advantage over the Pirates.
CCSU (20-7) will face the sixth-seeded team from the North Division in the University of North Carolina Pembroke, who will enter the event with a 3-24 overall record and a 2-14 mark in the league. The game will tipoff at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3 at Augusta State University's Christenberry Fieldhouse.
The Clayton State defense paved the way to Saturday's win, as the squad allowed only 36 points to the Bobcats the fewest points allowed to a Laker opponent in six seasons, as the 1998 team allowed only 29 points to Allen for the school record. Clayton State's defense held the Bobcats to 28 percent (14-of-51) from the floor, the lowest of any opponent this season.
CCSU raced out to a double-digit lead three minutes into the game and led 13-3 with 16:46 remaining as senior Kevin Young scored on a layup. Clayton State pushed its lead to 20 points at the 11:47 mark on a jumper by senior Stephen Cox.
The Lakers led 36-19 at halftime and had their lead trimmed to 12 points in the first five minutes of the second half with a 9-4 run by the Bobcats. A jumper by GC&SU's Duke Gibbs cut the margin to 40-28 with 15:23 remaining.
Clayton State answered, however, and went on massive run, outrscoring the Bobcats 28-6 in the final 15 minutes of the game. Senior Jason Byrd gave the Lakers a 20-point lead at the 10:25 mark and a jumper by sophomore Donte Dawson gave the Lakers 30-point lead with 1:51 remaining.
Former Mt. Zion standout Lamar Rodgers, a senior, led the scoring with 12 points on four three-pointers. Juniors Craig Butts and B.J. Puckett each had double-doubles, as Butts had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Puckett had 10 points and 10 boards.
Byrd chipped in nine points to go along with six boards. Butts had a game-high four blocks and junior Rashad Williams had a game-high five assists.
Georgia College 83, Clayton State 75 (women): A late 12-2 second half run by Clayton State was not enough as the squad fell 83-75 on "Senior Night" to 22nd-ranked Georgia College & State University at home.
The Lakers led a fierce charge to open the second half behind the three-point shooting of Carlie Anderson, who hit 4-of-6 in the second half.
Clayton State further chipped away at the lead and cut the deficit to three points 66-63 with 8:13 remaining, but that was as close as they would come to the Bobcats.
Next for Clayton State (10-17, 2-14) is the PBC tournament at Augusta State, where the Lady Lakers will meet Francis Marion Tuesday at 3 p.m.