From Staff Reports
Out of all the teams in the Peach Belt Conference that have given Clayton State women's head basketball coach Dennis Cox fits during his four-plus seasons at the Laker helm, it is UNC Pembroke. And the Lady Braves gave Clayton State all it could handle and then some on Saturday.
In one of its more thrilling games of the season, Clayton State needed two overtimes to pull off an 84-80 squeaker over UNC Pembroke at the Athletics and Fitness Center. The victory was the Lakers' third in their last four games, improving them to 14-4 overall and 8-3 in the Peach Belt Conference.
It was only the second ever double-overtime game for the Lakers in the history of Clayton State women's basketball.
Ahead by three points at halftime, Clayton State held a comfortable lead for much of the second half, and appeared to have the game in hand with a 68-54 lead with 5:18 left in regulation. However, UNC Pembroke (9-9, 5-6 PBC) found its extra burst of energy, finishing the second half on a 16-2 run to force overtime.
The Lady Braves held Clayton State scoreless for the final 3:15, and then tied the game 70-70 on two free throws by Illya Hunt with 59 seconds left. Following a missed Laker shot, UNC Pembroke had a final opportunity to possibly win, but Lady Brave forward Lavontay Johnson was whistled for traveling in the lane with a second remaining.
The Lakers built a 3-point lead in the first overtime period on a lay-up off a missed shot by Lisa Jackson at the 2:49 mark. However, UNC Pembroke tied the game at 76-76 on two free throws by JaToya Kemp with 1:22 left, and then had another opportunity to win on a Clayton State turnover with 24 seconds remaining.
But Marquena Delk missed a 10-foot jump shot at the buzzer, sending the game into a second overtime.
Following two ties two ties and two lead-changes, the Lakers took the lead for good on a lay-up by Tanisha Woodard at the two-minute mark. Lesheria Stevens then extended the Clayton State lead to 83-80 with 1:11 left, but UNC Pembroke had one final shot to tie the game with 11 seconds remaining.
However, the Lady Braves had a costly turnover with four seconds remaining, and Dominique Jennings sank 1-of-2 free throws to seal for the Lakers.
Stevens and Jennings each scored 14 points for Clayton State. In addition, Woodard scored 12 points, followed by Jackson with 11 points and Brittany Hall scored 10 points.
For UNC Pembroke, Kemp scored 19 points, and Briana Stanton scored 14 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the field. Johnson, Delk and Talena Faison each scored 10 points for the Lady Braves.
Clayton State travels to USC Aiken for a key Peach Belt showdown on Monday at 5:30 p.m.