Photo by Heather Middleton
From Staff Reports
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - What got the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team all the way through the 2010-11 season was the reason for what it was rewarded on Friday night - the NCAA Division II National Championship.
Utilizing its vaunted pressure defense, the Lakers took over the second half and cruised to an impressive 69-50 victory over Michigan Tech in the NCAA Division II National Championship game at the St. Joseph Civic Arena. The national championship was the first for Clayton State
in any sport in its athletic history.
In addition, the Lakers became the first women's basketball team to win a national championship from the Peach Belt Conference and the first women's basketball team to win a national championship for a four-year program in the state of Georgia.
Clayton State finished its banner season a whopping 35-1 overall.
The Lakers were paced by senior forward Teshymia Tillman with a game-high 26 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field. Sophomore guard Drameka Griggs scored 12 points off the bench, while Latonda Bruce and Brittany Hall each added seven points. However, it was the pressure defense that the Lakers have become known for that was the difference.
Clayton State held a strong-shooting Michigan Tech team to only 38 percent shooting from the field and forced 25 Huskie turnovers. With the score tied 22-22, the Lakers finished the half on a 9-2 run as Bruce drained a 3-point basket and Griggs scored on a driving lay-up to give Clayton State a 31-24 lead at halftime.
But it was the first five minutes of the second half where the Lakers took control. Clayton State opened the half on an 11-0 run to take an 18-point lead. Tillman scored six points on three lay-ups, while Brittany Hall drained a 3-point basket from the corner as the Lakers lead 42-24 at the 18:14 mark.
A 3-point basket by Kayla Mobley and two straight lay-ups in transition by Tillman stretched the Clayton State lead to 22 points, 51-29 with 13:26 remaining.
The closest Michigan Tech could get was 16 points from that moment on. A lay-up by Lindsey Lindstrom brought the Huskies to 57-41 with 7:49 remaining. Clayton State answered with lay-ups by Tillman and Breanna Fort, and a lay-up by Tillman gave the Lakers a 67-45 lead at the 3:05 mark.
Tillman finished her brilliant two-year career as the NCAA Division II "Elite Eight" Most Valuable Player, while Griggs was selected to the
All-Tournament Team. Tillman concluded her career with 1,055 career points - fourth all-time at Clayton State.
For Michigan Tech (31-3), Lisa Staehlin scored 18 points, followed by Sam Hoyt with 11 points.