By Doug Gorman
The Clayton State women's basketball team started 2011 much like they ended 2010 -- with a win.
But Monday afternoon's 81-55 victory against Palm Beach Atlantic probably won't go into the team's highlight video at the end of the season.
The Lakers only led 32-31 at the end of first half after shooting 20 percent.
Finally, in the second half, the Lakers were able to wear down the Sailfish who dressed just eight players for the game and dropped to 1-13.
Still, Palm Beach Atlantic was able to keep pace with the Lakers well into the second half. The Sailfish took their last lead of the game with 11:34 remaining in the contest when Selethia Jackson connected on an old-fashion three-point play to give her team a 46-43 lead.
Clayton State then trimmed the lead to 46-45 on a basket by Teshymia Tillman.
The Lakers took the lead for good when Tanisha Woodard hit a pair of free throws to give her team a 47-46 lead.
The Lakers dominated the action the rest of the way, outscoring Palm Beach Atlantic 34-9 over the last 10:39 of the game.
"It was just a matter of putting a few shots together," said CSU coach Dennis Cox. "Every time we started getting a little bit of separation we would miss the shots. For whatever reason, we just didn't shoot it well tonight."
The Lakers used a balanced scoring attack with five different players scoring in double figures.
Woodard led the way with 12 points. Brittany Hall and Jonesboro graduate Drameka Griggs each scored 11. Latondra Bruce and Renee Jackson each scored 10.
Selethia Jackson led the Sailfish with 13. Liz Fugate tossed in 10.
Hall helped spark the CSU rally, hitting two 3-point shots down the stretch. Her second trey with 6:49 remaining gave the Lakers a 62-49 lead.
With the win, Clayton State continues its best start in school history, improving to 13-0.
After its slow start, the Lakers shot 54.3 percent in the second half.
Both teams turned in solid performances from the free throw line. Clayton State was 19-of-21. Palm Beach Atlantic was 11-of-12.
The Lakers are 2-0 in Peach Belt Conference play and return to league action Saturday at Georgia College.
Cox is thrilled with his team's fast start, but admits sometimes his team has trouble keeping its focus against lesser-talented opponents.
"Sometimes it gets harder to stay hungry when you haven't lost, so that is one of the things we are sort of fighting," Cox said.