By Doug Gorman
It almost went into the record books as the one that got away, but the Clayton State Lady Lakers held on for a dramatic 67-65 victory Wednesday against North Georgia in a Peach Belt Conference game.
With the win, Clayton State improved its record to 16-8 overall and 11-6 Peach Belt action.
Shantel Ragin led the way for the Lady Lakers with 20 points. Lisa Jackson tossed in 16 and Dominique Jennings and Marie St. Fort each finished with 10 each.
Two players finished in double figures for North Georgia as Syretha Marble led all scorers with 26 points and Megan Huffman added 25.
"There are six or seven teams that have a chance to win the conference tournament, and I hope we are one of them," said Clayton State coach Dennis Cox.
"But if this team can get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament that will be a huge accomplishment."
North Georgia dropped to 16-9 overall and 11-6 in the league.
After Clayton State built a 35-24 lead at the half, the Lady Saints put together a second-half comeback and nearly sent the game into overtime, but Marble's shot at the buzzer bounced in and out.
Clayton State used a solid defensive effort to built its first half lead and hold the Lady Saints to just 34.5 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Each team converted on five 3-point shots for the game. Jennings' 3-point shot early in the second half gave the Lady Lakers a 38-28 lead, but the squad was unable to build on the double-digit lead.
North Georgia's own offense heated up and with about 4:25 remaining in the game, the Lady Saints finished off a 29-13 run to build a 59-57 lead.
Huffman gave North Georgia the lead when she converted a 3-point play.
With a little over two minutes remaining, the Lady Saints took a 64-61 lead when Marble scored six-straight points.
That's when Clayton State's Ragin took over.
Her basket with 1:15 remaining gave the Lady Lakers a 65-64 lead.
After Marble tied the game at 65 all when she hit on one-of-two free throws, Ragin came up with a key rebound, drew the foul and hit both foul shots to ice the game.
Saturday is Senior Day as Clayyton State faces Lander in a conference doubleheader at the Athletics and Fitness Center in Morrow.
The Lady Lakers get things started at 5:30 p.m. and the Laker men will follow with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.