Clayton State men come up short in 78-73 setback at UNC Pembroke
PEMBROKE, N.C. – January 5, 2012 – Despite a career night from point guard Anthony Salter, the Clayton State Laker men's basketball team could not make some key plays in the final minutes on Thursday night, dropping a 78-73 decision in Peach Belt Conference action at UNC Pembroke.
The defeat is the second straight for Clayton State, which falls to 8-4 overall and 1-3 in the Peach Belt. UNC Pembroke, meanwhile, improves to 10-4 overall and is undefeated in the Peach Belt at 4-0. In addition, the Braves won against Clayton State for just the fourth time in 22 games in the series.
"They (UNC Pembroke) are a good team – maybe the best team we've played this team," said Gordon Gibbons. "We played hard enough and physical enough against a good physical team to have a chance to win. We battled them and it could have gone either way - we just could not get some key shots late."
With UNC Pembroke stepping up the defensive efforts against Clayton State's Teondre Williams, the second-leading scorer in the Peach Belt, Salter stepped up himself. The senior Division I transfer from Hawaii poured in a career-high 26 points before fouling out late in the second half.
Salter scored Clayton State's first nine points as the Lakers came out hot, hitting seven of their first 10 field goal attempts. Reco Lewis gave the Lakers a 17-6 lead with a 3-point basket at the 13:39 mark, and a lay-up by Tim Budd gave Clayton State a 19-9 lead with 11:17 remaining.
However, UNC Pembroke answered with a 14-1 run, starting with a four-point play by Shahmel Brackett. After a jump shot Griffin Pittman cut the Laker lead to two points, Brackett hit another 3-point basket and converted two free throws to give the Braves a 23-20 lead at the 6:39 mark.
The Lakers tied the game on a 3-point basket by Williams, but UNC Pembroke countered again. Brackett sank another 3-point basket, and Mike Robinson scored on a jump shot to increase the Braves' lead to 33-25 with 2:40 remaining. Six free throws down the stretch gave UNC Pembroke a 39-31 lead at halftime.
The Braves led by as many as eight points on four occasions in the second half before Clayton State rallied. The Lakers went on a 10-2 run as Salter converted a 3-point play and converted a jump shot in the lane. Two free throws by Tony Dukes and Lewis' lay-up off a Braves' turnover tied the game at 55-55 at the 9:52 mark.
Williams drained a 3-point basket to give the Lakers a 60-59 lead with 7:51 remaining, but that was the last time that Clayton State would have the lead. UNC Pembroke reclaimed the lead on lay-ups by George Blakeney and K.J. Cooper. A 3-point basket by Salter trimmed the Braves' lead to 70-68 at the 3:16 mark, but that was as close as the Lakers would get.
Down the stretch, UNC Pembroke made 10 free throws to seal the victory.
In addition to Salter, Bradley Tumer was tremendous off the bench for the Lakers with 12 points and six assists. Williams was limited to a season-low 10 points, while Lewis added nine points off the bench. Center Andrew Bachanov grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
Brackett scored 17 points to pace UNC Pembroke, followed by Blakeney with 15 points and 14 points for Cooper off the bench.
Clayton State concludes the road trip with a 3:30 p.m. contest at Francis Marion on Saturday.