AMERICUS, Ga. – The Georgia Southwestern Lady Hurricanes were looking to turn their four-game winning streak into a five-game winning streak. The hurdle in front of them was perhaps one of the biggest they have ever faced: the fourth-ranked team in the nation. The # 4 Clayton State Lady Lakers (23-2, 13-1 PBC) showed why they have dominated the Peach Belt by downing the Lady 'Canes 72-62 on Wednesday evening.
Tanisha Woodward, the game's top scorer, would be the only Clayton State starter in double digits. Woodward would finish the night with a near triple-double with 18 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. The Lady Lakers would also get two double-digit scorers off their bench in Alexiss Griffin (14 points) and Drameka Griggs (13 points).
Georgia Southwestern would see their leading scorer come off the bench. Junior forward Briana Walker would score a career-high 15 points while grabbing six rebounds. The majority of their remaining scoring would come from the starting trio of guards of Tania Walters, Jessica Bivins and Terra Branch who combined to score 32 points.
Just as they were in their loss earlier in the season to Clayton State, turnovers were again an issue. After turning it over 30 times in their December match-up, CSU forced the Blue & Gold into 24 turnovers. It was their most since their 27 turnovers against Francis Marion on January 28th. Those 24 turnovers were converted into 28 CSU points off turnovers. The impact of those points off of turnovers was minimized by GSW forcing CSU into 24 turnovers as well and scoring 29 points off of Lady Laker turnovers.
While Clayton State shot better as the game went on (48.3 % in the first half and 53.8% in the second half), Georgia Southwestern did the opposite. Coach Britsky and company shot 32.8% for the game after shooting 33.3% in the first half and 32.3% in the second.
After GSW's Jessica Jones converted the game's first basket, the visiting Lady Lakers took control of the game with a 20-5 run over the next five minutes to lead Georgia Southwestern by 13 points. That 13 point-lead would slip a little as Clayton State would lead 35-27 at halftime. The lead was in part to Clayton State's 13-5 bench scoring advantage in the first half.
The visitors would score the first nine points of the second half on their way to a 13-2 run over the course of the first 5:09 of the second half to keep the game out of reach. The Clayton State lead would push to 20 points with 10:40 left to play before Georgia Southwestern would cut it in half for the final score of 72-62.
The loss for Georgia Southwestern puts their overall mark at 16-7 (8-6 PBC). Wednesday night's loss coupled with Columbus State's win leaves the Lady Hurricanes in sole possession of third place in the PBC West Division. Because Columbus State's victory was over Montevallo, the Blue & Gold were able to clinch a PBC Tournament birth on Wednesday evening. This year's conference tournament birth is just the second in the NCAA Division II era and the first since the 2009-10.
The Lady Hurricanes will now look to improved their newly-secured Peach Belt Tournament positioning as they will face the current fourth place team in the PBC West, North Georgia. The match-up with the Lady Saints will tip off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in Dahlonega, Georgia.