From Staff Reports
GREENWOOD, S.C. '- Hoping to stay the heat of the race for the Peach Belt Conference regular season championship, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team could not overcome a strong second half surge by the Lander as the Bearcats knocked off Clayton State 90-77 on Saturday at Horne Arena.
The defeat snaps an eight-game winning streak for 24th-ranked Clayton State, now 20-5 overall and 14-4 in the Peach Belt. The defeat, coupled with Francis Marion's 72-69 victory at Georgia College, clinches the PBC regular season title for Francis Marion.
"They played with more energy, they played tougher and we played soft," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "We didn't rebound and we didn't attack hard. That has to be the worse we've ever played defensively up here."
Lander (16-9, 11-7 PBC) shot a whopping 61 percent from the field in the second half to overtake the Lakers. Clayton State led 55-51 on a lay-up by Nikkisha Pritchett at the 16:47 mark of the second half when the Bearcats made their move.
Lander answered with a 12-0 run, taking the lead for good on two free throws and a lay-up by Kaylyn Small with 13:37 remaining. A jump by Ciara Lyons stretched the Bearcat lead to 63-55 at the 12:29 mark.
Clayton State never got closer than seven points after that. Lander answered with a 10-2 run, taking a 73-59 lead on a lay-up by TaSheba Butler with 9:25 left. The Bearcats twice increased their lead to 19 points, including 90-71 on a driving lay-up by Lyons at the 3:11 mark.
Nikkisha Pritchett matched her career-high of 22 points to pace Clayton State. She scored 12 points in the first half as the Lakers battled Lander to a 42-42 tie at halftime. Shanrika Hardeman recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Clayton State shot 45 percent from 3-point range.
For Lander, Butler was near unstoppable with 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field. Lyons scored 20 points, followed by Shannon McKeever with 12 points and Jasmine Judge scored 11 points. The Bearcats shot 50 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Lakers 46-37.
Clayton State plays next on Wednesday at home against USC Aiken at 5:30 p.m..