Woodard paces No. 4 Clayton State women past Georgia Southwestern 72-62
AMERICUS, Ga. – February 15, 2012 – When the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team needed a big play on Wednesday night, Tanisha Woodard delivered.
The senior wing scored 18 points and dished out nine assists as the Lakers fended off Peach Belt Conference rival Georgia Southwestern 72-62 at Georgia Southwestern's Storm Dome. The victory is the fifth straight for Clayton State, ranked No. 4 in the nation in Division II. The Lakers improve to 23-2 overall and 13-1 in the Peach Belt.
The victory clinches Clayton State the No. 1 seed in the West Division in the upcoming Peach Belt Conference Tournament on March 1-4 in Columbus. Georgia Southwestern, which saw its four-game winning streak get snapped, falls to 16-7 overall and 8-6 in the Peach Belt.,
"I am relieved to get that one against one of the better teams in the conference," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "We were very respectful of them coming in and knew they were capable of beating us if we didn't play our best basketball. The story was how well we shot the ball and hit some big shots."
Clayton State shot 51 percent from the field, including 54 percent in the second half. Woodard alone was tremendous, shooting 6-for-12 from the field and an amazing 5-for-5 from 3-point range.
She drained a 3-point basket to give the Lakers an early six-point lead. Brittany Hall then sank another 3-point basket to give Clayton State a 20-7 lead at the 11:10 mark. Georgia Southwestern cut the Laker lead to four points, but Woodard and Mobley both made 3-point baskets to push the Clayton State lead back to eight points.
Woodard drilled a 3-point basket to push the lead to 11 points, but the Lady Hurricanes cut the lead to 35-27 at halftime on a 3-point basket by Briana Walker as time expired.
The start of the second half was key for Clayton State as the Lakers scored the first nine points and opened on a 14-2 run. Clayton State pushed the lead to 20 points, 59-39 on consecutive 3-point baskets by Alexiss Griffin.
Each time that Georgia Southwestern made its move, Clayton State answered. The Lady Hurricanes trimmed the Laker lead to nine points 62-53 on two free throws by Jessica Bivins, but Drameka Griggs scored twice in transition off turnovers to push the Laker lead back to 13 points with five minutes remaining.
Walker drained a 3-point basket for Georgia Southwestern to cut the Clayton State lead to 10 points at the 4:21 mark. But Woodard made perhaps the shot of the night as she answered with a 3-point basket while getting fouled on the play. Her free throw completed the four-point play and made the Clayton State lead 70-56 with 3:59 remaining.
"Tanisha is playing at real high level right now, and that is key," Cox said. "We did a great job at starting both halves off strong and really holding them at bay."
In addition to Woodard, Griffin scored 14 points and Griggs scored 13 points – both off the bench. Walker scored 15 points for Georgia Southwestern, followed by Terra Branch with 12 points and 10 points each from Bivins and Tania Walters.
Clayton State is back home after two weeks on Saturday, playing host to Columbus State at 5:30 p.m. at the Athletics and Fitness Center.