Photo by Heather Middleton
The Clayton State men's basketball team might feel like its been on a bit of a roller coaster ride lately.
Clayton State won three, lost two and is now back on a two-game winning streak over its last seven games.
The Lakers held off Francis Marion 70-60 Saturday afternoon in a Peach Belt Conference game at the Athletics and Fitness Center.
Now as Clayton State heads into the final five games of the regular season, it could be playing its best basketball of the year.
Clayton State moved to 17-7 overall and 8-5 in the Peach Belt. Francis Marion dropped to 14-8 overall and 7-7 in the league.
The Lakers traded the lead with the Patriots eight times Saturday before finally taking control of the game in the second half.
After the game, Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons grabbed the public address microphone and urged the crowd to make some noise for his team after Saturday's emotional conference game
"This is an unbelievable league, from top to bottom," Gibbons said. "The Peach Belt is the best league in the Southeastern United States and this is the toughest it has ever been."
Brandon Robinson paced Clayton State with a double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 16 rebounds, 11 on the defensive end. Timmy Downs, his 5-foot, 6-inch teammate, also added 23 points.
"The key was really rebounding," Robinson said. "We work hard in practice on boxing out and playing hard the whole game. We just never want to let up."
The Patriots were led by Evirk Gary's 17 points. Dominique Coleman adde 14 and Liki Turner chipped in 11.
Clayton State tied the game at 35 at the end of the first half when Downs connected on a 3-point shot at the buzzer.
After the Lakers took a 39-35 lead early in the second half, the Patriots went on a 7-0 run and pulled out to 42-39 lead.
Clayton State then went on a 10-0 run and took the lead for good.
Juron Dobbs took a pass from Downs at the 15:10 mark and scored on a fastbreak dunk to put CSU out front for good at 43-42.
Francis Marion cut the lead to one two more times in second half, but the Lakers were able to pull away.
After the Patriots trimmed the lead to 64-60 with 47 seconds left, Clayton state closed out the game with the final six points of the game.
The Lakers used a tough brand of defense against the Patriots, forcing 18 turnovers and 13 steals. Clayton State also held the Patriots to 32.8 percent shooting (21-64).
Clayton State shot 40 percent for the game (24-60).
The Lakers head back into Peach Belt Conference play Wednesday at Columbus State. It will be the second meeting this year between the two teams. Clayton State pulled out an overtime win at home earlier thus year.