Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
Playing at Georgia Southwestern for the second time in 72 hours, the Clayton State Lakers could not overcome a torrid shooting second half by the Hurricanes as Georgia Southwestern downed the Lakers 87-68 in the Peach Belt Conference quarterfinals on Tuesday at the Storm Dome.
The defeat drops Clayton State to 19-10 overall, and the Lakers are hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, which will be announced on Sunday.
Georgia Southwestern improves to 20-7 overall and will play UNC Pembroke in the PBC Tournament semifinals on Saturday at USC Aiken.
"You just can't keep playing from behind, and we've done a good job of that this season," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "But I thought Georgia Southwestern was more motivated after Saturday (an 80-72 Laker victory), and it showed. But these guys have had a heck of a year, and these seniors deserve one more game."
One senior in particular is guard Brandon Robinson. He tied his career-high with 31 points on 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range to go with nine rebounds. Fellow senior Timmy Downs scored 17 points with five assists.
However, the Lakers could not overcome the second half Hurricane onslaught. Georgia Southwestern shot 56 percent from the field in the second half, including a whopping 8-for-11 (73 percent from 3-point range. The main culprit was senior forward Trayce Macon, who scored 29 second-half points on six 3-point baskets.
Clayton State cut the Hurricane lead to 40-37 on a free throw by Downs at the 15:44 mark. From there, it was all Georgia Southwestern as the Hurricanes went on a 16-2 run over the next four minutes.
Macon started the rally with a 3-point basket, and he scored 11 points during the time span. Macon connected on another 3-point basket to stretch the Hurricane lead to 13 points, and his 3-point play gave Georgia Southwestern a 55-39 lead with 11:13 remaining. Macon wasn't finished, either, as he connected on two more 3-point baskets, giving the Hurricanes their largest lead of the contest 69-46 at the 7:48 mark.
"Georgia Southwestern played extremely patient and well in the middle of the second half," Gibbons said. "We were not as effective offensively during that stretch, and they got some great shots. Once we got down, we just could not seem to mount that comeback."
The closest Clayton State could cut the Georgia Southwestern lead was 15 points. Robinson connected on two straight 3-point baskets to trim the Hurricane lead to 74-59 with five minutes remaining.
In addition to Robinson and Downs, junior forward Torrin Greene added eight points for the Lakers. Robinson scored 14 of his points in the first half, as Clayton State stayed close with Georgia Southwestern, trailing 32-27 at halftime.
The Lakers shot 81 percent (13-for-16) from the free throw line.
For Georgia Southwestern, Macon scored a career-high 32 points, followed by Colin Slotter with 23 points and Evan Mobley with 11 points.