Milestone win for Gibbons as Clayton State rolls

Special Photo
With the Clayton State’s 78-59 win over Flagler on Thursday, coach Gordon Gibbons picked up his 200th victory at the Div. II school.

Special Photo With the Clayton State’s 78-59 win over Flagler on Thursday, coach Gordon Gibbons picked up his 200th victory at the Div. II school.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — The Clayton State men’s basketball team got Teondre Williams back in his offensive rhythm on Thursday night, and in turn, also got head coach Gordon Gibbons a long-awaited milestone.

Williams scored a game-high 27 points as the Lakers rolled to an impressive 78-59 Peach Belt Conference victory at Flagler. The victory improves Clayton State to 10-5 overall and 3-4 in the Peach Belt. It also marked the 200th victory at Clayton State for Gibbons, who is now in his 11th season at the Laker helm.

Gibbons is now 200-114 at Clayton State. In his 21st season as a head coach at the Division II level, Gibbons is 446-179. He is one of few head coaches at any level that has recorded 200 or more victories at two different programs.

“That is a nice honor and a tribute to the players and staff that have been a part of this success,” said Gibbons. “Tonight was just what the doctor ordered and it was a great team win. We were very balanced and wanted to get Teondre going. Tonight, he shot lights out.”

After struggling with his shooting over the last four games, Williams came alive on Thursday. The senior wing connected on 10 for 16 from the floor and drained 3-point baskets. He scored 22 points alone in the first half as the Lakers staked themselves to a 22-point lead at halftime.

Flagler twice trimmed the Laker lead to four points early in the first half before Williams erupted. He ignited an 18-4 Clayton State run with two straight 3-point baskets, followed by a monster dunk in transition to give the Lakers a 24-13 lead at the 9:28 mark.

Tony Dukes and Anthony Salter each followed with jump shots for Clayton State. Dukes’ 3-point basket with 6:43 remaining gave the Lakers a 33-15 lead.

The Saints trimmed the Clayton State lead to 15 points late, but Williams countered with a 3-point play in transition. A layup by Salter gave the Lakers a 45-23 lead at halftime. In the first half, Clayton State shot 60 percent from the field, including 50 percent from 3-point range.

“That was arguably our best first half this season,” Gibbons said.

Flagler never got closer than 18 points in the second half. Clayton State built its lead to 28 points as center Andrew Bachanov scored inside and also hit a 3-point basket. Another 3-point play by Williams gave the Lakers a commanding 57-29 lead at the 15:24 mark.

Clayton State took its biggest lead of the game at 29 points at the 11:42 mark. Reco Lewis connected on a corner 3-point basket, and a tip-in by Juron Dobbs gave the Lakers a 64-35 lead. Three-point baskets by Matt Clark and Ante Gospic trimmed the Clayton State lead to 73-55 with 2:56 remaining.

In addition to Williams, Dukes had a tremendous game off the bench with 13 points on three 3-point baskets, while Salter scored 11 points. Dobbs added eight points, while Lewis recorded four steals. Defensively, Clayton State limited Flagler to only 34-percent shooting from the field, including only 23 percent from 3-point range.

“That is something I have been concerned about over the last five games — our defense,” Gibbons said. “Tonight, we got back to playing Clayton State defense.”

Clark paced the Saints (6-11, 0-10 PBC) with 17 points, followed by Gospic with 11 points and nine rebounds. Chad July added 10 points off the bench,

Clayton State concludes the two-game road swing with a 3:30 p.m. showdown at Armstrong Atlantic on Saturday.