By Doug Gorman
The Clayton State Lakers opened the 2009-10 men's basketball season with an 87-63 victory against Edward Waters College Sunday afternoon .
Edward Waters, an NAIA team from Jacksonville, had already played eight games heading into Sunday's game, including a victory on Saturday against Carver Bible College as part of the team's weekend swing through Atlanta
Clayton State found itself in a close battle through the first 20 minutes and only led 38-36 at the half.
A second-half CSU surge turned the close game in the first half, into a double-digit blowout.
Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons was generally pleased with his team's first effort.
"We can't make mistakes like we did in the first half on the defensive end. I didn't yell too much (at the half), I just said ' let's go, you guys, have been doing this for 30 practices, and you know what we want."
The Lakers trailed by as many as five points early in the first half, and the game was tied five times.
Clayton State broke the last tie late in the first half on Armon Jones' hook shot from inside the paint to go up 32-30. Timothy Downs extended the lead with a dunk moments later and the Lakers never trailed again.
Twelve different players played for Clayton State as part of this year's deep bench and it showed in the scorebook as the Lakers finished the contest shooting 46.7 percent (35-of-75) from the floor, including 55.6 percent (20-of-36) in the second half.
Clayton State was paced by three players in double figures, including Robert Murry, who led the team with 20 points. Murry connected on 7-of-12 shots from the field and was 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Downs added 19 points finishing the day 7-of-13 from the floor and enjoying a perfect performance from the free throw line (5-5). Brandon Robertson tossed in 13 points.
Charles Evans led the Tigers with a 17-point performance.
Defensively, the Lakers forced Edward Waters into committing 26 turnovers, and it paid off on the scoreboard as the Lakers turned the Tiger miscues into 36 points.
Clayton State also had 34 fastbreak points.
"We are really good in transition, as you saw tonight with 34 fastbreak points. When we can rebound or steal and get it out, we really have speed. Thirty six points off turnovers and 34 points off of turnovers, that is the difference in the game," Gibbons said.
The Lakers opened the second half with a quick-strike offense. Murry connected on a three-point play after scoring the basket, getting fouled and converting the free throw.
Robinson had a 3-point shot moments later to help push the Lakers' lead to 46-38.
With just over 17 minutes left in the game, Downs stole the ball and turned it into a basket to give Clayton State a double-digit lead at 50-40.
The Lakers went on runs of 14-4 and 20-8 midway through the second half to put the game away.