Clayton State men drop tough 48-40 decision against USC Aiken in PBC quarterfinals
COLUMBUS, Ga. – March 2, 2012 – The Clayton State Laker men's basketball team turned in perhaps its top defensive performance of the season. However, the Lakers could not make some key shots down the stretch and dropped a 48-40 decision against USC Aiken in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament quarterfinals at the Lumpkin Center.
The defeat ends Clayton State's season at 16-11 overall, while USC Aiken improves to 21-6 overall. The Pacers advance to Saturday's PBC semifinals.
"That was an unbelievable effort by our team," said Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons. "We came in extremely well-prepared, and that team (USC Aiken) was guarded tonight by a real good defensive team. But what cost us the game tonight was the free throw line."
It was a defensive battle to the 10th degree. Clayton State limited the Pacers, the Peach Belt Conference regular season champion and one of the top offensive teams in the conference, to only 26 percent shooting from the field and 1-for-16 shooting from 3-point range. But the Lakers could not fare much better offensively, shooting only 33 percent from the field and 0-for-9 from 3-point range.
That ended an impressive streak for the Lakers in which they connected on at least one 3-point basket in 330 straight games.
Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half as there were six ties and eight lead-changes. But USC Aiken got some needed cushion late in the half with a 6-0 run. Maurice Hubbard scored twice inside and two free throws by Re'Mon Nelson gave the Pacers a 22-15 lead with 12 seconds remaining.
Clayton State trimmed the lead to five points at halftime on a lay-up by Tim Budd.
There were five ties and six lead-changes in the second half. Clayton State opened the half on a 12-4 run as Anthony Salter converted a 3-point play and a jumper in the lane. Juron Dobb's lay-up at the 12:49 mark gave the Lakers a 29-26 lead.
USC Aiken took the lead for good on two free throws by Jesse Seilern, but Clayton State had numerous chances to either tie or take the lead. The Lakers cut the Pacer lead to one point three times. Salter's two free throws at the 4:39 mark trimmed the USC Aiken lead to 38-37.
Clayton State missed a golden chance to tie following a USC Aiken free throw. Salter drove the right baseline and fired a short six-foot jumper that rolled around the rim numerous times but could not fall. The Pacers answered on their ensuing possession on a driving lay-up by Nelson to lead 41-37 with 2:53 remaining.
The Lakers got no closer than two points after that. USC Aiken finished the game on a 7-1 run in the final two minutes.
Salter paced Clayton State with 18 points, while center Andrew Bachanov grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, Hubbard paced USC Aiken with 11 points and nine rebounds.