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Clayton State women advance with 76-44 win

Drameka Griggs

Drameka Griggs

The Clayton State women’s basketball might have started slow in its Peach Belt Conference quarterfinals game against streaking Armstrong Atlantic, but the Lakers finished strong.

Powered by conference player of the year Drameka Griggs, the Lakers pulled away from Armstrong for a 76-44 win at the Lumpkin Center in Columbus. With the win, the Lakers will take on the winner of the host Columbus State and USC Aiken in Saturday’s semifinals round.

Griggs finished with 17 points, eight steals and six rebounds while teammate Kayla Mobley had a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Clayton State, the top-ranked team in Div. II, improves to 27-0 in its quest to win its first conference tournament championship since the 2009-10 season.

But Thursday’s focus was getting through the opening round against Armstrong, which had won five straight games to clinch a spot in the conference tournament. Armstrong was on a hot streak, winning six of its last seven games.

“We are definitely relieved to get the win,” Clayton State coach Dennis Cox said in his postgame press conference. “I believe the hardest game of any tournament is the first game. Armstrong was arguably the hottest team in the Peach Belt. They definitely had our attention.”

Clayton State used its pressure defense to blow open a close game. After Armstrong cut the lead to 15-11, the Lakers would reel off 10 unanswered points for a 25-11 lead.

Clayton closed the first half on a 13-4 run to take a 38-19 lead at the intermission.

“Once we got our press going, we were pretty much unstoppable at that point,” Griggs said.

Armstrong, which ended its season with a 13-14 record, was led by Tori Klewickin-McNutt’s nine points.