The Clayton State University women's basketball team is bringing home the national championship.
In the finals of the NCAA Division II tournament in St. Joseph's, Mo., the (currently) second-ranked Lakers (35-1) completed an unprecedented and historic season, defeating third-ranked Michigan Tech 69-50, to claim Clayton State's first national title in any sport, and the first national basketball championship ever for a Georgia women's team. Indeed, the only basketball team, college or professional, from Georgia to previously win a national crown was Kennesaw State's men's team, earlier this decade.
The game, played before a crowd that included Clayton State President Dr. Thomas J. "Tim" Hynes and Clayton State's first and only athletic director, Mason Barfield, followed a suprisingly familiar script... a suffocating Clayton State press that wore down its opponent in the second half, and a big game from Teshymia Tillman. The Lakers' biggest star on a team of stars, Tillman concluded her Clayton State career with a dominating 26 point, seven rebound game as Clayton State broke away from a seven point halftime lead to cruise to its sixth straight double digit victory in the 2011 NCAA playoffs. They key to the game? Very possibly the Clayton State press that forced more than 1000 turnovers in 36 games, including 25 tonight from a team justly renown for taking care of the ball.
The Lakers will return to campus on Saturday, Mar. 26, at approximately 3:45 p.m. It is expected that the Athletics & Fitness Center will be just as high energy for that event as the Lakers were for every game of what will always be known as That Championship Season.