February 11, 2012

No. 4 Clayton State women hang on for hard-fought 65-59 victory at North Georgia

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – February 11, 2012 – Playing its third straight road contest, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team got all it could handle at North Georgia on Saturday. However, the Lakers made some key plays down the stretch to pull off a 65-59 victory at Memorial Hall.

The Lakers have won four straight to improve to 22-2 overall and 12-1 in the Peach Belt. Clayton State, ranked No. 4 in the nation in Division II, has now won 11 of its last 13 games against North Georgia. The Lady Saints are now 11-11 overall and 5-8 in the Peach Belt.

"That was good for us," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox. "We learned that no matter what the score was the first time (a 72-44 Laker rout), teams are going to get better the second time around. This has always been a tough place to play, and all the credit to North Georgia. They gave us all we could handle."

The key moment for Clayton State was in the latter part of the first half. The Lakers wiped out a 2-point North Georgia lead with a 21-3 run to lead by 16 points. Brittany Hall gave Clayton State the lead on a 3-point basket, and a 3-point play by Shannon Smith gave the Lakers a 27-17 lead at the 5:16 mark.

Smith connected on two more jumpers in the lane, and a Brandice Howard lay-up made the Laker lead 36-20 with 1:18 remaining.

"We switched defenses to try and change the momentum and it worked," Cox said. "That allowed us some cushion."

The Lakers needed that cushion in the second half as North Georgia rallied. The Lady Saints trimmed a 10-point Clayton State lead to two points. Stephanie Huffman's back-door lay-up cut the Clayton State lead to 49-47 at the 8:10 mark.

But the Lakers got the needed breathing room in the final two minutes. Kayla Mobley scored inside off an entry pass, and Clayton State was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 35 seconds.

Woodard recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while also recording eight assists and seven steals for the Lakers. Smith scored 14 points with nine rebounds. Hall scored 10 points and Mobley and Jessica Covington each added eight points.

"I was very proud of the post players (Smith and Mobley)," Cox said. "They got it done today."

Jaymee Carnes, the nation's leading scorer in Division II, recorded a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds for North Georgia. Huffman scored 17 points.

Clayton State travels to Georgia Southwestern on Wednesday for a Peach Belt encounter at 5:30 p.m.