MORROW — One of the most successful programs in the Southeast Region will return to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the 13th time in 15 years as Clayton State (21-9) takes on No. 3 seed Wingate (21-7) as the No. 6 seed on Friday, March 15.
The 2019 NCAA Division II Southeast Region Tournament will be hosted by top-seeded and No. 15 Anderson in Anderson, South Carolina from March 15-18.
The Lakers earned the berth as an At-Large selection following a season that saw them go 21-9 overall to record the 13th season of at least 20 wins in the program’s history. All have come in the last 15 years.
During the course of the season, Clayton State knocked off Anderson and No. 21 Wingate on consecutive days to begin the year. With the Trojans having lost just two games all season, the other coming to Claflin, the Lakers are the only team in the country to have beaten both of those squads. Additionally, they pushed then No. 3 Carson-Newman, the No. 4 seed, to the limit on the road before falling 90-86.
An NCAA Tournament staple, Clayton State made “The Big Dance” 10 straight times from 2005-14, a stretch that included four Elite Eight trips and the 2011 National Championship. The latter is still the only Division II women’s basketball national title claimed by a team out of the Southeast Region as well as the only one by a four-year program in the State of Georgia.
Kaleena Coleman, as a student-athlete, assistant coach or head coach, has been part of all 13 trips to the tournament, including the past two appearances as the leader of the program.
The top half of the region will feature South Atlantic Conference champion No. 15 Anderson (29-2), which has won 27 straight, as the No. 1 seed against No. 8 seed Barton (24-5) and No. 22 North Georgia (27-4) as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 seed Emmanuel (24-6). The latter will be making the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
In the lower half of the bracket, its No. 3 seed Wingate and the sixth seeded Lakers and No. 4 seed Carson-Newman (22-7) taking on No. 5 seed Lander (22-8). All games will be played at Anderson’s Abney Athletic Center.
Including the victories over Anderson and Wingate, the Lakers are a combined 2-5 against the Southeast Region field this year. They were swept by both North Georgia and Lander and dropped a close one to Carson-Newman in their only other games against the field. They did not face Barton or Emmanuel.
The Lakers line up against the winner of the Emmanuel/North Georgia matchup should they win their quarterfinal round game. Their NCAA Tournament opener against Wingate will take place on Friday, March 15 at 12 p.m.
Clayton State leads the all-time series 6-5 against Wingate, which is one that dates back to December 30, 2000. They picked up the lead in the series with a thrilling 73-72 victory on November 12, 2016, the fifth in the previous six games between the teams. However, the Bulldogs evened with a 59-48 win on November 11, 2017.
WU’s lone win during that previous stretch was a slim 64-63 decision in the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional on March 10, 2012. The Bulldogs hold a 3-1 advantage on a neutral court with all but one of those meetings occurring in the NCAA Tournament. In 2006 they earned a 67-64 victory on March 11 and an 82-72 decision on March 17, 2008.
The 2008 meeting was in the South Atlantic Regional final while the other two postseason contests came in the semifinal round.
Most recently the Lakers pulled off a last minute 56-54 victory on November 10, 2018 at The Loch as part of the Conference Carolinas/SAC Challenge.
Stay tuned to www.ClaytonStateSports.com throughout the week for announcements on further developments concerning Clayton State’s 13th trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament in 15 years.