No. 5-ranked Clayton State women put defensive clamps on UNC Pembroke 58-40
PEMBROKE, N.C. – January 5, 2012 – Playing the first of a key two-game Peach Belt Conference road swing, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team put the defensive clamps on the UNC Pembroke Lady Braves on Thursday night, pulling away with a 58-40 victory at the English Jones Center.
The victory is the 11th straight for Clayton State, ranked fifth nationally in Division II. The Lakers improve to 14-1 overall and 4-0 in the Peach Belt. UNC Pembroke falls to 4-8 overall and 1-3 in the Peach Belt. Clayton State has now won seven straight against UNC Pembroke.
"I get so relieved whenever we win here," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "This was another game where even if we don't shoot well and cannot get an offensive rhythm going, we can win if we defend. Tonight we defended well, and I told the ladies I was proud of the way they played defense."
Defense was the name of the game for the Lakers. Clayton State limited UNC Pembroke to only 28 percent shooting from the field and only 27 percent from 3-point range. The Lakers also forced the Lady Braves into 23 turnovers with their pressure defense and out-rebounded UNC Pembroke 38-31.
Trailing 14-13, the Lakers used a 9-0 run in the first half to take the lead for good. Shacamra Jackson scored on a lay-up to give Clayton State the lead, and then Drameka Griggs and Tanisha Woodard both scored in transition off UNC Pembroke turnovers. That gave the Lakers a 22-14 lead with 2:26 remaining.
UNC Pembroke trimmed the lead to four points, but Genesis Kelly answered with a 3-point basket for Clayton State, and the Lakers had a 27-20 halftime lead.
Every time UNC Pembroke attempted to make a move in the second half, Clayton State answered. The Lakers pushed their lead to 11 points in the early part of the second half as Shannon Smith drained a jumper at the 13:21 mark. A lay-up by Woodard with 10:04 remaining pushed the Clayton State lead to 41-29.
Twice, the Lady Braves trimmed the deficit to eight points, but that was as close as UNC Pembroke would get. Woodard converted a 3-point play, followed by a 3-point basket by Brittany Hall, and the Lakers led 51-37 with 5:44 remaining. Clayton State finished the game on a mini 7-0 run.
"This is never a comfortable environment, but we found a way to win," Cox said. "They (UNC Pembroke) are so methodical, and they take you out of your element offensively. We are a drive-and-slash team, but they did a great job taking away the dribble lanes and forcing us into jump shots."
Woodard and Hall each scored 13 points for Clayton State, who shot 42 percent from the field. Jackson added 11 points, while junior forward Kayla Mobley grabbed nine rebounds. For UNC Pembroke, DeDe Cotten scored 12 points on four 3-point baskets, followed by Jazmine Kemp with 10 points.
Clayton State concludes the road trip with a 1:30 p.m. contest at Francis Marion on Saturday.