AIKEN, S.C. – Seventh-seeded Clayton State pulled off the biggest upset of the Peach Belt Conference tournament so far Friday afternoon when the Lakers overcame a dominating first-half performance by second-seeded Augusta State, upending the 10th-ranked Jaguars, 63-62, in the first quarterfinal matchup at the Convocation Center.
Will Lewis gave the Lakers the stunning victory when he hit the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
Clayton State, which improved to 15-14, advances to Saturday’s semifinals where it will play the No. 3 Georgia College/No. 6 Columbus State winner at 6 p.m. The Jaguars, who dropped to 22-6, will likely earn a berth into next week’s NCAA South Atlantic Regional as one of the top-ranked teams in the region.
ASU will learn its fate during a 10:30 p.m. NCAA Selection Show party on Sunday, March 9 at the Jaguar Student Activities Center on the main campus of the University. The gathering is free and open to the public.
Tracy Williams led the Lakers with a career-high 23 points, while Bernard Fields and Michael Sloan added 11 and 10 points respectively. Brian Kelly led Clayton State in rebounds with eight.
Tyrekus “AJ” Bowman’s 15 points moved the ASU senior up to third on the PBC’s all-time scoring list with 1,668 points. Garret Siler added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Jags, while Demetrius Howard added 11 points.
After trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half and down 34-23 at halftime, Clayton State wasted no time cutting into the Jaguar lead. The Lakers got back under double digits when Fields scored the first basket of the second half to trim it to 34-25 and Williams followed with a three-pointer to make it 34-28 at 18:23. Lewis’ right-side dunk put the Lakers within three at 38-35 with 15:09 remaining and they finally tied the game at 46 on Sloan’s three pointer at 9:34.
After ties at 48 and 50, the Jaguars went on an 8-1 run to take a 58-51 lead on a Ben Madgen steal and layup with 3:09 remaining. The Lakers countered when Fields made two three-pointers to key a run aided by a Sloan three and a Lewis field goal to tie the game at 62-62 with 58 seconds left.
The Jaguars opened the game with a 12-0 run and didn’t allow a Clayton State score until Williams hit two free throws at 15:35. The Lakers hit their first field goal on a Sloan dunk at 15:10 to make it 12-4.
ASU biggest lead of the first half came with 7:33 left when Steve Smith scored on a layup to give the Jags a 29-11 lead. Clayton State went on a 12-5 run to finish the half and cut the margin to 34-23.
The Lakers connected on 23-of-60 field goals for 38.3 percent, including 7-of-17 three pointers for 41.2 percent. Clayton State was 10-of-20 from the free throw line for 50 percent. Augusta State made 22-of-52 floor shots for 42.3 percent, including 8-of-25 three pointers for 32 percent. The Jags were 10-of-12 from the free throw line for 83.3 percent.