Seconds earlier, Hunter’s desperation heave from the midcourt line fell as time expired giving the Braves a 53-50 victory over heavily-favored Clayton State, snapping the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s 12-game losing streak to the Lakers.
Since that memorable afternoon, the Braves have lost five consecutive times to a team that has dominated the all-time series. UNCP (9-4, 3-0) hosts the Lakers tonight in a key early-season Peach Belt contest for both squads. The Braves have won three straight and sit tied atop the PBC East Division standings with USC Aiken.
“Clayton State’s always very, very good and well-coached,” UNCP coach Ben Miller said after last week’s victory over Shawnee State. “They’re very talented and it’ll be a great Peach Belt battle.”
Clayton State (8-3, 1-2) is led by Teondre Williams who is averaging a team-best 21.9 points per game this season. The Lakers have made the second-most 3-pointers in the PBC and take care of the basketball, giving up possession just 11.8 times per outing.
Preseason All-American Shahmel Brackett headlines a Braves offense with 12.9 points per game.
His point total this season is a hair better than both Marcus Heath (12.8) and junior big man George Blakeney (12.2). Senior Nate Priest has picked up his pace on defense in his final season, ranking 37th nationally with 1.8 blocks per contest.
Since dropping a game at Mount Olive the second week of December, the Braves have molded into one of the Peach Belt’s most complete teams and lead the conference in field goal percentage at 49 percent. UNCP searches for its fourth all-time victory against the Lakers tonight with three previous victories each coming at home.
Miller wants his team to continue its maturation process during this key stretch of three games in seven days.
"As the season goes on, most teams go through some ups and downs,” he said. “We’re making progress in guys starting to buy in to who we are as a team. You start the season as a group individuals ever year and then you got to put it together.”
UNCP’s womens team tips off today’s doubleheader at 6 p.m. at the English E. Jones Center.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at email@example.com