From staff reports
The sixth-ranked Kennesaw State Owls (28-4) converted all four of their free throws attempts in the final 26.2 seconds to break a 39-39 tie and pull out the 43-39 win over Clayton State (22-8) on Saturday night in the semifinal round of the 2004 Peach Belt Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Christenberry Fieldhouse.
"This team is made up of warriors," said head coach Gordon Gibbons. "We were totally ready for this game. We wanted the tempo to be that tempo. This was a war."
Clayton State will now wait to see if 22 wins are enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA South Atlantic Regional.
"It was a hard-fought game by both teams. We feel very fortunate to win. They came to play, but our guys responded, I'm very proud," said KSU head coach Tony Ingle.
Clayton State opened up a 16-9 lead with 7:16 to play in the first half on a Craig Butts' jumper. KSU connected on just 3-of-17 shots from the field in falling behind by seven, the largest lead of the game for either team.
The Owls shot 21.4 percent in the first stanza on 6-of-28 from the field.
The Owls used a 5-0 run to draw within a bucket at 16-14 with 4:03 left until half on Reggie McCoy's basket.
McCoy finished with four points and a game-high 10 boards. But the Lakers scored six of the half's final eight points to take a 22-16 advantage at the break.
In the second half, Kennesaw State out scored the Lakers 16-4 through the first 11 minutes of play capped by Cardale Talley's bucket in the paint with 8:44 on the clock as the Owls claimed their largest lead of the game 32-26.
Carlton Holmes drained a floater in the paint with the shot clock winding down and 5:18 on the game clock to knot it back up at 34-34.
After KSU pulled ahead 39-34, Clayton State again battled back to even things up at 39-39. Darien Chavis drilled a 17-footer from near the top of the key with two ticks on the shot clock to tie the game with 1:00 to play.
After Hill's two charity tosses with 26.2 remaining, Chavis slashed to the basket, but his game tying shot fell off the rim, Georgy Joseph grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 1.4 to play. Joseph converted both free throws to ice the game.
Prior to the final minute of play, Hill was 0-of-4 from the charity stripe and the Owls were just 4-of-11.
Hill and Joseph were the only two players to record double digits, finishing with 11 and 10 respectively. Butts' eight points and six boards led Clayton State.
Kennesaw State finished 16-of-51 from the field for 31.4 percent while Clayton State was 15-of-41 for 36.6 percent.