Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
DAHLONEGA, Ga.-- The Peach Belt Conference women's basketball regular season championship is coming back to Clayton State.
Spearheaded by a stellar second half on Wednesday, the No. 1-ranked Clayton State Lakers rolled to an impressive 79-44 victory at in-state rival North Georgia. Clayton State remained the lone undefeated team in the nation at 27-0 overall and 16-0 in the Peach Belt. The victory, coupled with No. 2-ranked Lander's 66-59 defeat at No. 14 USC Aiken, gave the Lakers the outright PBC regular season championship.
It's the fourth Peach Belt Conference regular season championship for Clayton State, and the Lakers' first since 2008.
"I am really proud of these players - they are a special group of players," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "That second half may have been the best half of basketball we have played this season, and it was against a good team on its home floor. These ladies continue to amaze me."
North Georgia had Clayton State on the ropes at the end of the first half. The Lady Saints went on a 14-4 run at the end of the half to trail 30-27 at halftime. North Georgia's Jessica Trice then opened the second half with a jumper to cut the Clayton State lead to one point.
That's when the Lakers took over. Clayton State responded with an unbelievable 18-0 run over the next seven minutes to take control. Brittany Hall and Drameka Griggs each drained 3-point baskets to stretch the Laker lead to 11 points. Another 3-point basket by Hall gave Clayton State a 48-29 at the 13:18 mark.
Clayton State was far from finished. A driving lay-up in transition by Griggs gave the Lakers a 25-point lead with 8:38 remaining. Tanisha Woodard them converted a lay-up at the 4:21 mark to give Clayton State a 70-39 lead. In the second half alone, the Lakers shot 59 percent from the field, including 63 percent from 3-point range.
Defensively, Clayton State limited North Georgia (15-12, 6-10 PBC) to only four second-half field goals and only 20 percent shooting from the field.
"We lost some focus at the end of the first half, and they (North Georgia) got our attention," Cox said. "We knew we had to bring our A game and had to play 20 minutes of our best basketball and not lose our focus. I challenged our post players at halftime to step it up defensively, and they did just that."
Griggs paced Clayton State with 19 points off the bench, followed by Hall with 15 points. Woodard scored 13 points with eight rebounds and Latonda Bruce added 12 points off the bench. The Lakers had 41 points off the bench, playing the second half without leading scorer Teshymia Tillman, who was battling an illness.
For North Georgia, forward Lindsey Moss scored 14 points.
Clayton State will attempt to become only the second team in Peach Belt history to go undefeated in a regular season when it plays at Georgia Southwestern on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.