Oh So Close

Oh So Close

MORROW, Ga. -- Clayton State University's Nate Powell hit a pull-up jumper from just inside the lane with 3.4 seconds left to hand the Georgia Southwestern State University men's basketball team a 63-61 loss Wednesday evening in The Loch. 

GSW suffered its fifth consecutive defeat to fall to 12-13 overall and 8-13 in the Peach Belt Conference while Clayton State has won 11 in a row, a streak that started with a win against the Hurricanes in Americus on Jan. 24, to improve to 20-5, 18-3 in the PBC. Despite the loss, GSW controls its own destiny for a berth in the postseason. The Hurricanes hold the eighth, and final, seed for the PBC Tournament with one game remaining.  

How It Happened: Clayton State, the reigning National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) NCAA Division II National Team of the Week, had its hands full from the onset. GSW grabbed an early 5-1 lead, but the Clayton State answered with an 8-0 run to jump in front.  The Lakers held on to a slim advantage though the rest of the half with the largest margin being seven points on two occasions. GSW responded with 3-point baskets each time to minimize the damage. First it was Jason Weaver with 4:45 remaining and then John Mason delivered with 48 seconds to go. Clayton State led 28-23 at the break.

GSW fought back to snatch the lead briefly on three occasions in the second half. The Hurricanes held Clayton State to eight points over the opening 6 1/2 minutes and, after a jumper by Dajion Macklien, led 38-36. The next Hurricanes advantage came with 7:10 to play, following a 3-pointer from Devin Watson, to make the score 53-52. The final moment came with 1:30 remaining when a 3-pointer from John Mason put the Hurricanes ahead 61-59. GSW missed its final three shots.  

The Hurricanes entered the game averaging the fewest turnovers per game in the PBC, but committed 21 on Wednesday, their second-highest total this season and nine more than their average. GSW was more accurate from 3-point range (4 of 10) than inside the arc (5 of 15) in the first half, but warmed up over the final 20 minutes, connecting on 14 of 24 shots (58.3 percent), to finish at 46.9 percent for the game. Clayton State did not make a 3-point basket, missing the mark on all eight attempts. GSW suffered only its second loss of the season (7-2) when outrebounding an opponent, holding a 32-31 edge on the glass and a 10-5 advantage in assists.      

Who Stood Out: Macklien turned in one of his best performances of the season, leading the Hurricanes with 15 points behind 6 of 9 shooting. He grabbed five rebounds, dished five assists and only turned the ball over once in 36 minutes of action. Watson scored 13 points and Mason added 11.  

Powell led Clayton State with 21 points. Jaylen Taylor scored 16 points and added a game-high eight rebounds.  

Up Next: The Hurricanes regular season finale is Saturday in Dahlonega against North Georgia (12-15, 10-11 PBC) at 3:30 p.m.