What is the significance of the numeric sequence 25, 26, 16, 23, 17?
Answer... it's the margin of victory for the Clayton State University women's basketball team in each of the Lakers' first five games in the 2010/2011 NCAA Division II national tournament.
An average margin of victory of more than 21 points against some of the best competition that Division II has to offer. And, after defeating Shaw University 63-46 at the St. Joseph's Civic Arena in St. Joseph's, Mo., Wednesday night, Clayton State has one more game left in its 34-1 season... the Division II national championship game, Friday night against Michigan Tech at 8 p.m. (EDT).
The Lakers' defeat of the Bears in the semifinal game followed a predictable pattern, as Clayton State's speed, athleticism and full court pressure eventually wore down the larger Shaw squad. Featuring their signature press and a superb passing game on the offensive end, the Lakers blew open a close contest, albeit a game where Clayton State led most of the way, in the latter portions of the second half. After trailing 34-33 early in the half, the Lakers outscored the Bears 30-12 the rest of the way.
Although the Lakers didn't feature the excellent shooting that blew away Bentley College by 23 (84-61) in the quarterfinal, the most telling statistics in the game belonged to the Bears, arguably the hottest team in DII since the start of February. Instead of relying on its 80-points-per-game offense, the second-ranked Lakers held Shaw (25-12) to a 14-57 shooting night while forcing 29 turnovers. Indeed, with their opponents having been responsible for more than 1000 turnovers on the year (1027 to be exact), Coach Dennis Cox' (the WCBA Division II Women's Coach of the Year) team could as well be called the Bakers as the Lakers.
As has been the case throughout most of the year, the most larcenous Laker was junior forward Tanisha Woodard, the Peach Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Woodard's typically well-balanced game against Shaw saw her put up a line of eight points, nine rebounds, five steals and four assists. Reserve forward Kayla Mobley led Clayton State with 13 points on six-for-eight shooting. The Bears were led by Demaria Liles, with 13 points and 11 rebounds.