Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
After knocking off No.-1-ranked Lander in a dramatic 83-81 victory Thursday night, Clayton State women's coach Dennis Cox had to be worried about a letdown in Saturday afternoon's game against Francis Marion.
His unbeaten and second-ranked Lakers put those thoughts to rest early as CSU rolled to its 24th win in a row, beating Francis Marion 80-60 in the late-season Peach Belt Conferece showdown Saturday afternoon at Clayton State.
CSU has now set itself up to earn its first ever No.-1-ranking when the next Division II poll comes out Tuesday.
The Lakers took control of the game early and never trailed.
Just six minutes into the game, Clayton State built a 20-6 lead using pressure defense, and then turned Patriot turnovers into fast-break points at the other end.
With the victory, Clayton State moved to 24-0 overall and 13-0 in the Peach Belt Conference.
Francis Marion dropped to 15-7 overall and 8-6.
Cox wasn't sure how his team was going to respond after Thursday's emotional victory against the top-ranked team in Division II.
"I more neverous and more worried about this game then I was against Lander," he said. "I just knew we would be ready against Lander because it was such a big game. We have received so much attention, I wasn't sure how we would play today."
The Lakers' only stumble came midway through the first half when Francis Marion went on a 14-1 run and cut the lead to 21-20.
Still, any thoughts Francis Marion had about a serious rally quickly ended. The Lakers built the lead back up to 39-27 at the half.
The Lakers were paced by senior Teshymia Tillman's 27-point performance. The senior, who bounced back from the flu in a big way Thursday in the victory against No.-1 ranked Lander, kept up her strong play on Saturday afternoon, shooting 11-of-14 from the field.
Tillman showed off her ability to score in close to the basket, but also from the outside as she also went 2-fo-3 from behind the 3-point circle.
Brittany Hall and Breanna Fort also added 11 each for the Lakers.
Robin Colbert finished the game with 16 points to lead the Patriots. Courtney Mealing and Sha Singleton-Bates scored 12 apiece for visiting Francis Marion.
Because there was such a quick turnaround from playing Thursday, Cox admits he worked his team pretty hard at practice Friday afternoon.
"We kind of had to bring that back to earth yesterday," he said. "I thought they responded to that well."
Clayton State prides itself on defense and it showed as it came up with 16 steals and held the Patriots to 38.8 percent shooting (23-66).
The Lakers get back into Peach Belt action on the road Wednesday at Columbus State.