Lady Cougars' comeback effort falls short

COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Columbus State Lady Cougars saw a 54-53 lead with 45 seconds remaining slip away when Shacamra Jackson drained a jumper to send No. 5 Clayton State to a 55-54 win in a Peach Belt Conference game at the Lumpkin Center on Monday night.

The Lady Cougars had two possessions to try to take the lead after Jackson made her shot with 28 seconds left but were unsuccessful.

With the loss, CSU is now 5-5 on the year and 1-1 in the PBC while Clayton State improves to 10-1 and 2-0 inside the conference.

"I am very proud of the way our girls played and the fight they had in them all game long,", commented head coach Jonathan Norton.  "It took us a while to settle into the game but we battled for 40 minutes."

"We displayed we can be a really good team when we execute.  We will learn from this and get better"

Columbus State wasted no time getting on the board scoring the first basket in the game with just 11 seconds off the clock. Lauren Matheney fired a pass that found Dominique Gilbert in the paint for an easy bucket.

The Lady Cougars kept feeding Gilbert as she scored CSU's first nine points.

With the game tied at 11, Clayton State flexed their muscles and went on an 11-2 run with five different player scoring to take a 23-13 lead with 6:11 left in the first half. Tanisha Woodard started the spurt knocking down a trifecta.

Facing their largest deficit of the night, Columbus State responded outscoring the defending national champions 10-4 over the final six minutes of the half to go into the break trailing 27-22.

Coming out of the break, the Lakers would stretch their lead to eight (32-24) before CSU rattled off eight straight points to tie the game at the 15:20 mark. Chatil Bradford knotted the game at 32 with a three-point basket.

The two sides would exchange buckets with Clayton taking a 37-34 lead when Drameka Griggs made her only three-pointer of the night.

The Lady Cougars would respond once again as Lauren Grisham made back-to-back threes to give CSU a 40-37 lead with 12:04 to go in the game. It was their first lead since the 12:30 mark in the first half.

Grisham's baskets started an 11-2 run which CSU stretched their lead to seven (45-38) midway through the second half. Gilbert scored the final five points during the stretch.

The two team would go back-and-forth with Marina DeFoor putting the Lady Cougars back up seven (50-43) with her only successful three-point attempt.

Clayton State did what national championship teams do as they went on a 10-3 run to tie the game at 53 all with 2:50 left in the game. Woodard fueled the run scoring eight of the 10 points and scored the last four including tying the game on a steal and a breakaway lay-up.

With the game being tied, Dominique Gilbert drew a foul on a jump shot and made 1-of-2 free throws setting up Jackson's heroics for the Lakers.

Gilbert scored a game high 17 points while also grabbing seven rebounds. Lauren Grisham and Chatil Bradford chipped in with eight and seven points, respectively. Nine out of the 10 Lady Cougars who played made a bucket.

Tanisha Woodard led the Lakers scoring 14 points with 11 of them coming in the final 20 minutes. Shacamra Jackson also scored nine for Clayton.

Columbus State will return to action on New Year's Eve as they play host to Carson-Newman. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET at the Lumpkin Center.