MORROW, Ga. – After a tremendous start to the 2011-12 season, the Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes faced the most formidable challenge in conference play: the defending national champion Lady Lakers of Clayton State. The #5 Lady Lakers (9-1, 1-0 PBC) weathered an early Blue & Gold storm in the first half and a GSW counter punch in the second half before taking home the victory by a score of 66-62.
GSW gave Clayton State everything they could handle during the opening 20 minutes. The Blue & Gold would lead by as many as ten points before settling for a six-point halftime lead. The Lady 'Canes would recover in the second half erasing a 14-point Laker lead. The Lady 'Canes would tie the game with a minute remaining before dropping the game on Clayton State free throws.
Clayton State had three players in double-digits. Drameka Griggs (13 points), Brittany Hall (12 points) and Kayla Mobley (12 points) led the Laker attack.
Georgia Southwestern was led by Tania Walters. The senior guard registered nine points, a career-high eleven rebounds and six assists. Fellow senior Terra Branch would lead all Hurricane scorers with 13 points. Forwards Jessica Jones and Adrian Randall both recorded near double-doubles as they tallied ten points and eight rebounds and twelve points and seven rebounds respectively.
The game's first five minutes were a sloppy affair for both squads as the two combined for ten turnovers during that span. The Blue & Gold would right the ship after the game's first media time out. Back-to-back baskets from Adrian Randall and Briana Walker would give GSW the 9-6 lead with twelve minutes remaining in the half. The GSW defense would hold out as the 'Canes built a lead as big as ten points.
A ten-point Georgia Southwestern lead would be reduced to as little as two before the Hurricanes pushed it to six points by half's (32-26). Defensively, the Hurricanes forced eleven Clayton State turnovers in the half. They also held the Lady Lakers to 10-28 shooting from the field and held a +13 rebounding margin.
It was a balance attack for the GSW offense in the game's first 20 minutes. Six different Lady Canes scored, and they were led by Jessica Bivins with nine points. Briana Walker scored seven points and Jessica Jones six points to round out the first half scoring.
Clayton State Head Coach Dennis Cox's halftime speech apparently sunk in on his team. The fifth-ranked Lady Lakers would respond with a 15-2 run in the second half's first 5:11 to take a 41-34 lead on six of eight shooting. The haymaker from Clayton State was weathered by the Lady 'Canes, which saw GSW cut a ten-point Laker lead in half going into the under ten minute media timeout.
The Lady Lakers would answer the run with one of their own that upped their advantage to 14 points as the visiting team was unable to string together consecutive stops. GSW would cut the lead to three late in the game before tying it with one minute remaining. Clutch free throw shooting by CSU in the final minute would give the Lady Lakers the 66-62 decision.
The tough-fought loss puts the Lady 'Canes' record at 8-2 (1-1) PBC. The game was their last of 2011 as they will return in 2012. They will host Coastal Georgia on Wednesday, January 4th at 5 p.m.