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Hot-shooting first half lifts Columbus State past Clayton State men

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

From Staff Reports

Aiming to get a more solid footing on second place in the Peach Belt Conference West Division, the Clayton State Laker men's basketball could not get over the hump on Wednesday at in-state rival Columbus State, dropping a 74-64 decision to the Cougars at the Lumpkin Center.

The defeat drops the Lakers to 17-8 overall and 8-6 in the Peach Belt, while Columbus State improves to 11-12 overall and 7-7 in the Peach Belt. The Cougars have now won four straight against Clayton State in the Lumpkin Center.

"Our teams will never quit and we kept battling, but we never seemed to get the breaks when we needed them," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "We were not very good against their schemes as we needed to be, and we just never could get over the hump tonight."

The Cougars came out on fire behind the play of small forward Steve Peterson. The junior scored 19 first-half points with five 3-point baskets as Columbus State led 44-34 at halftime. Peterson drained his first three 3-point attempts to give the Cougars a seven-point lead at the 15:27 mark. Two more 3-point baskets by Isaac Joyner increased the Columbus State lead to 25-12 with 11:43 remaining.

Peterson connected again on a long 3-point basket to stake the

Cougars a 12-point lead with 8:18 remaining. However, Clayton State rallied to cut the Columbus State lead to three points. Brandon Robinson and Timmy Downs both connected on 3-point baskets, and a jumper in the lane by Zach Bradley brought the Lakers to within 35-32 with 3:19 remaining.

But Columbus State finished the half on a 9-2 run as Peterson again drained a 3-point basket at the 1:57 mark. In the first half alone, the

Cougars shot 52 percent from the field, including 57 percent from 3-point range.

"They were red-hot in the first half," Gibbons said. "They looked like the Columbus of old out there. We let them have some good looks and did not defend them well."

But Clayton State stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, holding Columbus State to only 28 percent shooting from the field.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, but slowly chopped down the Cougar lead. Robinson twice scored in the lane to cut the deficit to seven points, and his 3-point basket at the 3:18 mark cut the Cougar lead to six points, 65-59. However, that was as close as the Lakers would get as Columbus State had nine second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds in the second half.

Downs scored 23 points for a second straight game for Clayton State, while Robinson scored 18 points. Peterson finished with 22 points for Columbus State, followed by Joyner with 14 points and Jarmarquis Steverson with 10 points.

Clayton State plays its regular season home finale on Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. against Montevallo at the Athletics and Fitness Center.