Photo by Derrick Mahone
Anthony Salter prepares to inbound the ball for Clayton State Wednesday against Lander. Salter scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half, got all six of his assists in the second, and the Lakers cruised to their second-largest margin of victory this season.
The Clayton State men’s basketball team came out with a sense of urgency Wednesday against Lander, the Lakers knowing that the last thing they needed was yet another close Peach Belt Conference defeat.
“We’re to the point where we’ve got to win,” coach Gordon Gibbons said. “We’ve got to win some games in a row. Find a way.”
The Lakers, losers of three conference games decided by two or fewer points this season, seemed to be headed for another tight one after playing on even terms with the Bearcats for the first 25 minutes. But over the final 15, they clamped down defensively and on the boards, pulling away for a 70-53 triumph at the Athletics and Fitness Center.
It was the Lakers’ second-largest margin of victory this season, trailing only last week’s 19-point win at Flagler.
Lander’s Dwight Tolbert is recognized around the conference as one of its best players, twice this season recognized as the PBC player of the week, but the Lakers (11-6 overall, 4-5 conference) kept him under effective surveillance. The 6-foot-5 forward came into the game averaging 22 points — and 29.3 in his last three games — but was held to 2-of-13 shooting from the field and settled for 10 points.
“We didn’t want him getting anything inside,” Gibbons said. “In the second half, we were really prepared for that. We took away his drives inside.”
The Bearcats (12-5, 5-4) settled for less than they are accustomed to getting on all fronts. They shot 36.7 percent from the field instead of their normal 47 percent, 21.1 percent from 3-point territory instead of their normal 36 percent and, as a result, finished 29 points below their 82-point average.
The Lakers even took away the second-chance shots the Bearcats had gotten freely in the first half. Lander had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, only two in the second. Led by Juron Dobbs’ nine rebounds, Clayton State won the battle of the boards 44-31.
Teondre Williams led the Lakers with 19 points while Anthony Salter added 17 points and six assists. Andrew Bachanov provided a needed inside presence, blocking five shots to go along with his 12 points and seven rebounds.
Torrin Greene provided a pleasant surprise with a season-high 11 points and six rebounds, one short of his season-high seven against UNC-Pembroke.
“This was one of our better wins,” Gibbons said. “When people look at the score, people will be surprised by the spread. But the league is the best it’s ever been, from top to bottom.”
With solid rebounding and defense, the Lakers made the PBC look pretty firm around the middle, too.