Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
DAHLONEGA, . - Clayton State men come up short in 84-79 defeat at North Georgia
The defeat drops Clayton State to 18-9 overall and 9-7 in the Peach Belt Conference heading into the final weekend of the regular season. The Lakers have now lost five straight head-to-head against North Georgia (10-15, 7-9 PBC), and nine of the 11 games against the Saints since North Georgia joined the Peach Belt in the 2005-06 season.
"For most of the season, we've been one of the better defensive teams in the nation," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "We had to dig back from a big deficit, but give our team a lot credit against this kind of crowd. But we cannot allow 50 percent shooting from the field and 12 3-pointers and expect to win."
North Georgia was hitting on all cylinders. The Saints shot 50 percent from the field, including 12-for-21 (57 percent) from 3-point range. In the first half, North Georgia shot 56 percent from the field and 62 percent from 3-point range to lead 43-36 at halftime.
North Georgia led by as many as 11 points before Clayton State rallied. The Lakers used a 13-2 run over three minutes to tie the game. Timmy Downs' driving lay-up tied the game 62-62 at the 7:34 mark. That was the first of three times that the Lakers would rally to tie the game in the final seven minutes.
Clayton State wiped out a six-point Saint lead as Torrin Greene drained a 3-point basket and a 3-point play by Brandon Robinson tied the game 75-75 with 2:05 remaining. After North Georgia went back up by three points, the Lakers trimmed the deficit to one point on James Waldon's tip-in with 1:03 remaining.
The back-breaker for Clayton State, however, came on the next possession when North Georgia's Carl Taylor drained a 3-point basket with 55 seconds remaining. That gave the Saints an 81-77 lead.
"Most Peach Belt games come down to the final couple of minutes, and that 3-point basket was the play in a nutshell," Gibbons said.
Robinson recorded a double-double 29 points and 10 rebounds to pace Clayton State, followed by Downs with 21 points. Juron Dobbs added nine points and seven rebounds.
Taylor connected on 25 points on seven 3-point baskets for North Georgia, while Elijah Smith scored 16 points, Clarence Tillman scored 14 points and Chaun Tinney scored 10 points.
Clayton State closes out the regular season when it plays at Georgia Southwestern on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.