Clayton State men persevere, out-last Francis Marion 99-94 in overtime
FLORENCE, S.C. – January 7, 2012 – Needing a victory in the worse way possible, the Clayton State Laker men's basketball team showed both courage and perseverance on Saturday as the Lakers rallied for a thrilling 99-94 Peach Belt Conference victory at Francis Marion.
The victory ends a two-game losing skid for Clayton State, which improves to 9-4 overall and 2-3 in the Peach Belt. Francis Marion, meanwhile, falls to 6-6 overall and 2-3 in the Peach Belt. Clayton State has now won five straight against Francis Marion and seven of its last eight.
"Unbelievable game!" said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "This has been a long trip with a tough defeat the other night (78-73 at UNC Pembroke). This team had to have this game, and that is why it was so big. Our guys were not going to lose today no matter what the situation."
Clayton State used a 19-2 run in the first half to take a 39-29 lead at halftime. But Francis Marion came out guns-a-blazing in the second half, shooting a sizzlin' 71 percent from the field and 60 percent from 3-point range. Still, the Lakers led by as many as 11 points early in the second half as Bradley Tumer's driving lay-up gave Clayton State a 55-44 lead at the 15:20 mark.
Francis Marion three times trimmed the Clayton State lead to three points before the Patriots went on a 13-0 run to lead by six. Marcus Wright started the rally with a 3-point play, followed by a long 3-point basket by Evrik Gary. After the Patriots took the lead on four free throws, Wright sank a 3-point basket to give Francis Marion a 76-70 with 4:21 remaining.
Methodically, Clayton State battled back. A 3-point play by Teondre Williams cut the Patriot lead to two points. Then after two missed free throws by Francis Marion's Liki Turner, Williams scored again on a driving basket and was fouled with 1:05 remaining. His second 3-point play cut the Francis Marion lead to 82-81.
Williams came up with two big steals in the final minute of regulation. The first set up the game-tying free throw by Anthony Salter with 41 seconds remaining. Clayton State had a final shot at winning in regulation, but Tumer's 15-foot jumper was short in the waning seconds.
The two teams traded leads early in the overtime period with free throws before Clayton State took a two-point lead on two Williams free throws with 2:14 remaining. After Francis Marion regained the lead on a 3-point basket in the corner by Zamarius McLendon, Williams answered again. The senior scored on a driving lay-up and was fouled to convert his third 3-point play of the game.
That gave Clayton State a 91-89 lead with 1:15 remaining. The Lakers increased the lead to three points when Salter scored in transition off a missed Francis Marion free throw.
After Francis Marion trimmed the deficit to one point on a driving lay-up by Turner with 48 seconds remaining, Clayton State's Andrew Bachanov answered with a turnaround baseline jumper with 19 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 95-92 lead.
Gary tried to tie the game on a long 3-point basket for the Patriots, but it was off with 11 seconds remaining. Williams and Salter each hit two free throws to seal it for the Lakers.
Williams and Salter each paced the Lakers with 21 points as five Clayton State players scored in double-figures. Bachanov recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Reco Lewis scored 13 points and Tony Dukes scored 12 points – both off the bench. The Lakers shot 48 percent from the field and 85 percent (22-for-26) from the free throw line.
"The way we played tonight is to play offensively," Gibbons said. "We are also doing better on the glass, and we are taking it to the basket more and finishing."
Five Francis Marion players scored in double-figures, led by Gary with 28 points on 12-for-14 shooting from the free throw line. Wright scored 21 points, followed by Turner with 20 points. Center Andrew Smith scored 12 points, and McLendon added 11 points. For the game, the Patriots shot 54 percent from the field, 57 percent from 3-point range and 84 percent from the free throw line.
Clayton State is off this next week before returning to action next Saturday (Jan. 14) at home against Augusta State.