AIKEN, S.C. - Reigning PBC Tournament champion Clayton State
took its first step to defending its title with a 63-48 victory
over tournament newcomer Georgia Southwestern State on Wednesday
evening in first-round action of the 2009 Peach Belt Conference
Men's Basketball Championship.
The Lakers (15-13) advance to the PBC Quarterfinals where they will face host and No. 2 seed USC Aiken on Friday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. Georgia Southwestern State sees its season end with a 10-18 record.
Clayton State opened up a four-point lead at halftime, 33-29, thanks to a pressure defense that forced 12 turnovers by the Hurricanes. Brian Kelly made 6-of-8 shots in the first half for 12 points to lead the Lakers, while Georgia Southwestern State kept things close by making 6-of-10 three-pointers in the first period.
The Lakers scored the first five points of the second half on a Bernard Fields layup and a Ricky Garrett three-pointer to stretch that lead out to nine, but back-to-back three-pointers by Evan Mobley and Anthony Sargent cut the Clayton State advantage to three, 38-35, with 15:53 left.
A Trey Goss three-pointer made the lead two possessions again, where it stayed until a breakaway dunk by Ricky Garrett extended the Laker lead to eight, 53-45, with 6:21 left. Georgia Southwestern State made just one basket over the final six minutes, allowing the Lakers to pull away for the victory.
Kelly finished the night with a game-high 19 points for the Lakers, while Jaquas Dobbs and Will Lewis each added 12 points. The Lakers forced 22 turnovers in the game and registered 12 steals.
Georgia Southwestern State was led by PBC Freshman of the Year Evan Mobley's 13 points and Anthony Sargent's 11 points. The Hurricanes hit 9-of-27 three-pointers for the game, but connected on only 3-of-17 from beyond the arc in the second half, and shot just one free throw in the contest.
Seniors Anthony Sargent and Ric Russell played their final games in the blue and gold. Sargent ended his prolific career at GSW 22 points shy of 1000, having scored 978 points in two seasons.