From Staff Reports
COLUMBUS, Ga. It didn't take the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team long to recover from Saturday's disappointing defeat against Georgia College.
On the strength of its pressure defense, Clayton State got back on its winning form with a 65-55 Peach Belt Conference triumph at in-state rival Columbus State. Clayton State, ranked 14th in the latest Division II Top 25, has now won eight of its last nine to improve to 12-2 overall and 3-1 in the PBC.
"I know it's early in the conference season, but we felt this was a must-win game for us tonight," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "We had to win tonight. A loss not only would put us two games behind in the league, but also in our division. This is twice we have responded well after a loss."
The Lakers almost didn't recover. Columbus State jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and then led 21-9 at the 9:50 mark on a jumper by Turelle Jones. The Cougars took their largest lead of the first half 29-16 when Ashley Stafford sank a jump shot with 4:28 remaining.
However, Clayton State responded with a 14-0 run over the next three minutes. Breanna Fort and LaDe'Sha Stoudemire converted consecutive lay-ups, and Teshymia Tillman scored seven straight points, including five free throws, to trim the lead to 29-27 with 2:03 remaining. Clayton State took its first lead of the game on a Brittany Hall 3-point basket at the 1:20 mark.
The two teams traded leads before the Cougars took a 34-33 lead at halftime on a jump shot by Nikki Urbizo with six seconds remaining.
Clayton State took control in the second half with its pressure defense, forcing 15 Cougar turnovers. Hall put the Lakers ahead for good at the 16:02 mark, followed by a 12-0 Clayton State run to stretch the lead to 13 points. Stoudemire scored five straight points, including a 3-point basket, and a 3-point basket by Genesis Kelly gave the Lakers a 54-41 lead with 11:05 remaining.
The Cougars responded with a 9-0 run to trim the Clayton State lead to four points as Urbizo and Monique Jefferson each sank 3-point baskets. But the Lakers answered with an 8-0 run with Clayton State converting three straight lay-ups to lead 61-50 at the 3:37 mark.
Despite not starting for the first time this season, Tillman paced the Lakers with 15 points, while Stoudemire won her "Battle of the NBA siblings" against Columbus State's Phoebe Smith 14 points. Stoudemire is the younger sister of Phoenix Suns' All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire, and Smith is the younger sister of Atlanta Hawks' superstar forward Josh Smith.
Fort added 10 points for the Lakers, who forced 28 Columbus State turnovers for the game and shot 72 percent (18-for-25) from the free throw line.
Smith recorded a double-double for Columbus State (8-5, 2-1 PBC) with 12 points and 17 rebounds. But she was limited to only two points in the second half. Jones paced the Cougars with 14 points, followed by Urbizo with 13 points.
CSU men fall 66-64: The chance for a thrilling ending to a hard-fought game was there on Wednesday for the Clayton State Laker men's basketball team. However, the shot would not fall.
A potential game-winning 3-point basket by junior forward Brandon Robinson at the buzzer was long as the Lakers dropped a tough 66-64 Peach Belt Conference defeat at in-state rival Columbus State at the Lumpkin Center. The defeat drops Clayton State to 8-6 overall and 1-3 in the Peach Belt. In addition, the Lakers have now dropped six straight head-to-head against Columbus State.
"We came out tonight not as ready to play as a Clayton State team should be," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "However, we didn't panic and made some big plays down the stretch to have a chance to win. It's so unfortunate that shot by Brandon (Robinson) did not go in because he had a good look at the basket."
The Lakers trailed 61-51 with 3:30 remaining when the Cougars' Chris Telesford scored on a driving shot along the baseline. But the Lakers responded with an 8-0 run to trim the deficit to two points. Robinson and Downs both scored on driving lay-ups, and a running jump shot in the lane by Robert Murry cut the Cougar lead to 61-59 with 1:20 remaining.
Columbus State increased its lead to four points on a put-back by Telesford, but Robinson answered with a big 3-point basket in the corner to bring the Lakers within one point with 41 seconds remaining. The two teams traded free throws, and then Columbus State's Lamar Williams converted 1-for-2 from the free throw line to give the Cougars a two-point lead with seven seconds left.
The Lakers' Timmy Downs drove the ball up court, cut across the middle and fed Robinson, who missed an open 3-point basket as time expired.
Clayton State shot only 28 percent in the first half as the Lakers went almost seven minutes without scoring a point. The Cougars, meanwhile, built a 10-point lead with a 10-2 run. Williams' 3-point basket gave Columbus State a 27-17 lead with 3:09 remaining.
Murry paced the Lakers with 18 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting from the free throw line, while Robinson tallied 15 points and seven rebounds. Downs scored 12 points, and center Armon Jones grabbed 10 rebounds. For the game, Clayton State shot 85 percent (11-for-13) from the free throw line and out-rebounded Columbus State 37-28.
For the Cougars (7-5, 1-2 PBC), Telesford recorded a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Williams and Donta Ridley each scored 15 points and Brandon Bland added 10 points.