#3 Clayton State comes back to defeat #23 Augusta State 67-54 in Augusta
Augusta, GA – Trailing by 18 points early in the second half, a 20-game Clayton State winning streak appeared in jeopardy Thursday, but that was before the 3rd-ranked Lakers kicked it into high gear.
Clayton State outscored #23 Augusta 26-6 over the next 10 minutes en route to a 67-54 victory over the Jaguars at Christenberry Fieldhouse in Augusta, GA.
Laker guard Kayla Pryce ignited the second half run with a 3-pointer with 17:27 remaining in the game to cut the deficit to 15 points. The squad continued to cut into the Jaugar lead with five straight free throws and holding Augusta scoreless. A free throw by center Shacamra Jackson trimmed the lead to 39-29 with 15:10 remaining.
After both teams traded baskets, Clayton State inched closer with a 3-pointer by guard Keona Dixon with 12:13 left to trail 41-34. Laker guard Drameka Griggs scored on a layup, followed by Dixon draining another 3-pointer to cut the Jaguar lead to a single basket.
A layup by Griggs off a steal by Pryce on the ensuing possession, followed by two free throws by Griggs completed the comeback, giving Clayton State a two-point lead 47-45 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
Clayton State then took control of the game in the final five minutes, clamping down on defense and outscoring the Jaguars 15-2 down the stretch. Griggs gave the team a 54-52 lead on a jumper to start the run.
After three free throws by the squad, center Shannon Smith gave the team a seven-point advantage with a rebound off a Laker missed free throw. A steal and layup by Griggs, followed by a basket in the paint by Jackson gave Clayton State an 11-point lead, 63-52, with 1:26 left to seal the victory.
"We were so out of sync in the first half," said head coach Dennis Cox. "Nothing went right out there. The second half didn't start much better. But we finally found ourselves. Keona Dixon hit a couple of three's to close the gap some. Then defensively, we got critical stops."
Cox continued, "I thought Shannon Smith played big and a lot of minutes with Kayla (Mobley) in foul trouble all night long. Then MeMe (Drameka) Griggs – as she so often does – took over the game in the final minutes. We were relieved to get the win against a really good nationally ranked team on the road."
After shooting only 31 percent (8-of-26) in the first half, the Lakers heated up in the second half hitting 52 percent (14-of-27) from the floor. The Jaguars capitalized on 15 Laker turnovers in the first half to take a 34-21 at intermission.
Clayton State held Augusta State to 35 percent (20-of-58) shooting from the floor, including only 30 percent (8-of-27) in the second half.
Griggs led the Lakers with 24 points, hitting 10-of-17 from the floor. Smith scored 15 points, making 5-of-7 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Guard Bena Hanyard chipped in 11 points.
For Augusta, Tanch Hollingsworth finished with 14 points, followed by Becky Newhouse with 11.
With the win, Clayton State improves to 21-0 overall and 14-0 in Peach Belt play. Augusta State drops to 15-4 overall and 8-4 in league action. Clayton State will return to the Athletics & Fitness Center on Saturday, hosting Montevallo for homecoming.