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Lakers advance in PBC tourney

From staff reports

Senior forward Craig Butts scored 17 points to lead a hot-shooting Clayton College & State University squad to an easy 90-56 win over UNC Pembroke in the final first-round game of the 2004 Peach Belt Conference men's basketball tournament, Wednesday night in Augusta.

The Lakers (21-7), seeded third in the South Division, advance to face Augusta State University (11-16) in the quarterfinals, Friday at 8 p.m. UNCP, the sixth seed from the North Division, ends its season 3-25.

Following Butts, CCSU center B.J. Puckett tallied 14 points and reserve guard Rashad Williams added 12 points. Butts also led the Lakers with seven rebounds.

Senior forward Damien Goodman led UNCP with 19 points, while center Travis Wallace tallied 16 points and five rebounds.

Clayton State scored the game's opening seven points and never trailed. The Braves trimmed the margin to 14-9 on a fast break basket by Goodman with 11:36 left before halftime, but the Lakers responded with a 13-0 run that produced a 27-9 advantage. The lead would grow to 21 points at 43-22 before Wallace threw in a 79-foot shot at the first-half horn, the longest shot in the history of the PBC Tournament.

"One thing we wanted to was to get out of the box early," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "Looking at the games today, you don't want to let a team like that hang around. We played with a lot of energy and were efficient in our press. We were able to execute and get easy shots, we got a good spread. They were tired in the second half."

"They're a lot more talented and a lot tougher than we are. That leads to a 50-point loss," said UNC Pembroke coach Bryan Garmroth.

Laker guard Kevin Young opened the second-stanza scoring with a three-pointer and UNC Pembroke never got closer than 19 points the remainder of the game. Clayton State connected on 21 of 30 field goal attempts (70.0 percent) in the final 20 minutes and led by as many as 40 points, at 84-44.