No. 2 Clayton St. edges No. 1 Lander
Tillman’s 24 points include game-winner with 5.7 seconds left
MORROW, Ga. – No. 1 vs. No. 2 lived up to its billing as two national heavyweights delivered one punch after another before second-ranked Clayton State delivered the knockout blow at the end as the Lakers handed top-ranked Lander its first loss of the season 83-81 on Thursday night.
In front of a sellout crowd at the Athletics & Fitness Center on Clayton State's campus, the only two unbeaten teams in NCAA Division II women's basketball battled to nine ties in the second half. Teshymia Tillman's basket in the paint with 5.7 seconds left broke the final tie and was the game-winner for the Lakers.
Clayton State outscored the Lady Bearcats 14-2 over the game's final 3:50.
The loss snapped Lander's school-record 23-game winning streak. The Lady Bearcats fell to 23-1 overall and 13-1 in the Peach Belt Conference. Clayton State improved to 23-0 overall and remained perfect at 13-0 in the PBC.
Shannon McKever had a huge game for Lander, posting her 12th double-double of the season with 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting and 12 rebounds.
Jasmine Judge hit five 3-pointers and finished with 15 points for the Lady Bearcats. Tasheba Butler added nine rebounds, Brittni Johnson led Lander with seven assists, and McKever added four steals and three blocked shots. Ciara Lyons added eight points and six assists.
The Lady Bearcats shot well, hitting 29 of 56 shots from the floor (52 percent) with 13 of 20 free throws (65 percent) and 10 of 20 from 3-point range (50 percent). They also had 24 assists on 29 field goals.
Lander had a 35-32 edge on the boards but committed 27 turnovers.
Tillman was Clayton State's star, hitting 11 of 17 shots including the game-winner. Tillman finished with 24 points, while Tanisha Woodard added 14 points, eight assists and six steals.
Brittany Hall also scored 14 points for the Lakers, Drameka Griggs added 11 points, and Breanna Fort scored 10. Shacamra Jackson contributed eight points and four blocked shots.
Clayton State also shot well, making 33 of 66 shots from the floor (50 percent), 10 of 12 free throws (83 percent) and seven of 14 from behind the arc (50 percent).
The Lakers had scored consecutive baskets to tie the game at 60 with 12:21 left in the game, the seventh tie of the second half. But Lander returned with an 8-0 run and would lead until the final minute. After Kayla Mobley hit two free throws and Woodard made a 3-pointer to pull the Lakers within 68-65, Johnson answered with a trey of her own to push the Lady Bearcat lead back to six at 71-65 with 7:43 to go.
With 5:33 to go, Lander pushed its lead to nine when McKever rebounded Judge's missed 3-pointer, was fouled and hit two free throws to make it 74-65.
Judge gave Lander its first double-digit lead of the second half with a long 3-pointer to make it 79-69 at the four-minute mark.
Then it was Clayton State's turn to counterpunch. Tillman and Fort made layups on consecutive possessions, then Tillman stole the ball and converted a three-point play to pull the Lakers within 79-76 with 2:54 to go.
After Lander's Johnson missed a 3-pointer, Hall made her fourth trey of the game from the corner to tie the game at 79 with 2:05 left.
Johnson was fouled and made one of two free throws to give Lander an 80-79 lead with 1:08 left before Hall gave Clayton its first lead in several minutes, 81-80, on a jumper with under a minute to go. Lander's Myrick hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 81 with 36 seconds left.
With a chance for the win, Tillman missed a shot inside and Lander's Butler grabbed the defensive rebound. However, the Lady Bearcats lost the ball out of bounds with seven seconds to go. Tillman grabbed an inbounds pass from Latonda Bruce and scored inside with 5.7 seconds left for the game-winner as Lander was not able to get a shot off on the other end.
In the first half, Brianna Webb hit a 3-pointer to give Lander a 17-12 lead and Robbins made a trey, pushing the Lady Bearcat advantage to 22-14 at the halfway point of the period. Woodard hit a 3-pointer to pull the Lakers within 22-17 and Jackson's three-point play cut it to 26-24 at the 6:39 mark.
But Lander exploded with 11 unanswered points to take its largest lead of the game at 37-24 lead.
Clayton State stormed back, outscoring the Lady Bearcats 17-4 over the final five minutes of the half.
After Butler made a basket and two free throws on separate possessions to push Lander's lead back to 41-31, the hosts scored the final 10 points of the half.
Hall's third 3-pointer in as many tries gave Clayton State a 44-41 lead in the first minute of the second half, giving the home team 13 unanswered points dating back to the first half. But Lander responded with Judge's game-tying 3-pointer and Butler's go-ahead layup to make it 46-44. The game would be tied at 46, 50 and 52.
Judge's fourth 3-pointer in six tries gave the Lady Bearcats a 55-52 at the 15-minute mark. With the game tied at 56, McKever's made her ninth field goal in 12 attempts and Lyons scored inside to give Lander a 60-56 lead with 13:11 to go, but the action was just beginning.