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No. 5 Clayton State women win 66-60 Peach Belt thriller before national television audience

From Staff Reports

In front of a spirited crowd and a national television audience, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team remained undefeated on the 2010-11 season with a thrilling 66-60 Peach Belt Conference Division II Top 25 showdown victory over USC Aiken on Saturday at USC Aiken's Convocation Center.

The victory improves fifth-ranked Clayton State to 15-0 overall and 4-0 in the Peach Belt. 18th-ranked USC Aiken, meanwhile, falls to 15-3 overall and 7-1 in the Peach Belt as the Pacers had a 10-game winning streak snapped. The Lakers have now won two of their last three against USC Aiken at the Convocation Center.

The Lakers had one of their better shooting performances of the season, connecting on 54 percent from the field, including 46 percent from 3-point range. Clayton State got 21 points from senior forward Teshymia Tillman and 13 points each from Brittany Hall, Latonda Bruce and Drameka Griggs.

However, USC Aiken's precision Flex offense and effective transition defense kept the Laker attack at bay in the first half. There were seven lead-changes as neither team had larger than a five-point lead.

Freshman sensation Kayla Harris was the spark for the Pacers in the first half. Her jump shot gave USC Aiken a 17-13 lead at the 8:37 mark. She then scored on a baseline jumper with 6:47 remaining to give the Pacers a 21-16 lead.

Harris then gave the Pacers a 32-29 lead at halftime with a driving lay-up with 59 seconds remaining after the Lakers twice came back to take a first-half lead.

But Clayton State got the game in its tempo in the second half. The Lakers trailed by three points when Tillman ignited a 14-0 Clayton State run with a 3-point basket to tie the game at 45-45 with 7:41 remaining. Hall followed with an 18-foot jumper, and a 3-point basket by Bruce gave the Lakers a 51-46 lead at the 5:45 mark.

Clayton State was far from finished. Hall converted a transition lay-up and another 3-point basket by Bruce gave the Lakers their largest lead 56-45 with 4:18 remaining.

A pair of jump shots and two free throws by Harris brought the Pacers to within four points, 60-56 with 44 seconds remaining. But Hall converted four free throws, and a lay-up in transition by Tillman in the waning seconds sealed the deal for Clayton State.

Harris had a tremendous game for USC Aiken, scoring a game-high 23 points. Forward Hannah DeGraffinreed scored 10 points for the Pacers, who shot just 39 percent from the field and only 24 percent from 3-point range.

Clayton State hits the road again on Wednesday, this time with a 6:30 p.m. EST game at Montevallo