NCAA Tournament: Lakers Drop Decision to Wingate

NCAA Tournament: Lakers Drop Decision to Wingate

ANDERSON, S.C. – A late 10-0 fourth quarter run was too much to overcome as No. 6 seed Clayton State (21-10, 16-6 PBC) battled No. 3 seed Wingate (23-8, 15-5 SAC) to the very end before falling by a 76-66 score in an NCAA Division II Southeast Region women's basketball game on Friday, March 15.
 
Junior forward Kelsie Towns (Butler, Ga.) led the way for the Lakers with 13 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes while redshirt-junior guard Madison Newby (Lawrenceville, Ga.) finished with 13 points and three steals. Junior guard Taneria Wilson (Fort Pierce, Fla.) added 14 points and sophomore guard Tatiana Foster (Atlanta, Ga.) chipped in with eight points, three steals and three caroms.
 
Wingate wasted no time as they jumped out to a commanding 15-2 lead over the game's first 7:36 behind five points from Caroline Averette and four from Courtney Robinson. The Lakers would weather that storm and pull to within 17-9 by the end of the frame before the Bulldogs extended to a 25-12 margin by the 6:36 mark of the second.
 
Things would shift at that point, however, as Clayton State put together an 11-2 stretch that cut the deficit to just 27-23 with 2:38 left in the half. Following a WU free throw, they would then pull all the way to within 34-31 by the break.
 
It would remain a tight one into the third as the margin would be no more than five points until the Bulldogs managed a 44-38 advantage with 4:03 left in the period. The Lakers would cut it to two on three occasions before finally slicing it to one at 48-47 by the 37 second mark. They would then close the quarter trailing by that same margin, 50-49.
 
Back-to-back buckets by Wingate expanded their lead to five, 54-49, in the first 12 seconds of the fourth but Clayton State would claw their way back to a one point deficit at 55-54 by the 8:30 mark.
 
Trailing 60-54 just over 30 seconds later, the Lakers would play their best basketball of the day as they went on a 9-0 run to flip the script and pull ahead 63-60 with 5:37 left. That stretch would see Towns with five points, including the go-ahead three. Clayton State would maintain the lead, this time at 66-63 with 3:23 on the clock, but things would take a dramatic turn at that point.
 
A triple by WU's Jo Snow tied the game up 40 seconds later and a bucket by Robinson helped fuel what would be a game-ending 10-0 run that would see Averette sink the last six points at the foul line as the Bulldogs escaped with a 76-66 victory.
 
Averette exploded for a game-high 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and a perfect 11-of-11 outing from the foul line to power the Wingate offense. She also added seven boards and three assists while Robinson finished with 15 points. Jordan Quick had 11 points and five caroms and Snow delivered a solid all-around game with six points, four rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals.
 
The Lakers close out the 2018-19 season at 21-10 and with their 13th NCAA Division II Tournament appearance and 13th overall 20-win season in program history.
 
NOTES
Clayton State made its 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 15 seasons and first since the 2016-17 campaign.