Clayton State coach Dennis Cox says his team has to play well in its last six games to have a chance of getting in the NCAA Div. II tournament. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
MORROW — With six games remaining, Clayton State women’s basketball team is now thinking postseason.
Lakers coach Dennis Cox said his team must play well in the remaining games to keep its nine-game NCAA Division II Tournament streak alive.
Clayton State enters Saturday’s home game against Montevallo on a seven-game winning streak as they head into the back stretch of its schedule.
The Lakers are 15-5 overall and 10-3 in the Peach Belt Conference while Montevallo is 7-14 and 4-10. Last week, Clayton State had a convincing 66-51 victory over Montevallo in Alabama. Clayton State led by double digits for most of the second half of the contest.
But Cox is not taking the Falcons lightly in the 1:30 p.m. rematch at the Athletics Center.
“Montevallo is a real dangerous team,” Cox said. “At this time of the year, everybody is jockeying for position to get into the conference tournament. It is a dangerous time of the year, so you have to be real motivated. You are playing a team that knows a lot about you. It will be a challenge to keep our edge.”
The Lakers are the defending regular-season and tournament champions. While the Lakers haven’t won the conference tournament, which gives the winner an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II tournament, they have had enough wins to get one of the three at-large bids into the tournament.
A three-game losing streak in the middle of the season could come back to haunt the Lakers in their tournament bid.
“I think we have a good shot at the postseason, unless we completely fall apart in the last couple of weeks,” Cox said. “There is a log jam in our region for those bids. We really can’t afford to lose any more games. Our eyes are on a different prize. We are right on the border of getting in.”
But for now, the focus is on the rest of the conference schedule, starting with today’s matchup against Montevallo.
The Falcons snapped a four-game losing streak with a 66-54 win over Georgia Southwestern on Wednesday. Montevallo is led by all-conference player Taylor Beverly, who is averaging 21.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
In Clayton State’s win over the Falcons last week, Beverly had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Tiayra Green led the Lakers with a game-high 17 points.
Cox said the team will have its work cut out against Beverly, who he called the best post player in the league.
“She is really good,” Cox said. “You sort of hold your breath and hope you can stay out of foul trouble. We definitely have to be aware of where she is throughout the game.”