Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
Fresh off being ranked No. 1 in the nation in Division II, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team put that ranking to the test on Wednesday and passed with a 64-54 Peach Belt Conference victory at in-state rival Columbus State.
The victory keeps Clayton State undefeated on the season at 25-0 overall and 14-0 in the Peach Belt. Columbus State falls to 14-9 overall and 7-7 in the Peach Belt.
Despite the victory, Laker head coach Dennis Cox was frustrated somewhat his team's play.
"Make no doubt about it - I am elated with the victory and we did what we had to do to beat a good team in their floor," said Cox. "But I was frustrated with the fact that we built big leads both halves and didn't finish either half. The pressure may have got us a little, and I don't want to get into the habit of playing when we need to play."
Clayton State totally dominated the beginning the game. The Lakers raced out to an early 18-2 lead as Tanisha Woodard and Latonda Bruce each drained 3-point baskets. Woodard then made a lay-up in transition to give Clayton State a 16-point lead.
A 3-point basket by Bruce at the 3:40 mark increased the Laker lead to 30-12.
However, Columbus State finished the half strong on a 12-5 run. Dominique Gilbert connected on two jump shots in the lane, and two free throws by Nakita Holt cut the Laker lead to 35-24 at halftime.
After Columbus State trimmed the Clayton State lead to six points early in the second half, Clayton State answered with a 15-0 run. Drameka Griggs scored on a jumper in transition, and then Tillman followed with a 3-point play to give the Lakers a 46-33 lead at the 13:31 mark.
A 3-point basket by Woodard, and a lay-up by Kayla Mobley gave Clayton State its largest lead of the game, 54-33 with 11:06 remaining. But after Breanna Fort gave the Lakers a 63-43 lead with a lay-up at the four-minute mark, Columbus State responded with an 11-1 run to finish the game.
Tillman, this week's Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week, paced the Lakers with 22 points and eight rebounds. Woodard added nine points and 10 rebounds.
For Columbus State, Chatil Bradford scored 15 points off the bench, while Marah Wright and Asha Alexander each scored 10 points.
Clayton State plays its regular season home finale on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. against Montevallo at the Athletics and Fitness Center.