AUGUSTA, Ga. - Austin Lawton tied a season-high of 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Claflin University defeated Paine College 66-53 in a Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) East Division contest Monday.
The win wrapped up 21-6 regular season record for Claflin, its best since the 2008-9 season, when the Panthers posted a 25-4 mark and participated in the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
The Panthers finished third in the SIAC East Division with a 14-5 mark and enjoyed a program-best 16-game win streak during the season.
Claflin will have a seven-day break before taking part in the SIAC Tournament slated for Mar. 3 in Birmingham, Ala at the CrossPlex Complex.
Lawton, a Lake Marion Gators product, also blocked two shots in the win, giving him 54 for the season.
Two other players scored in double figures for the Panthers with Triston Thompson contributing 14 points and five assists, followed by Jaleel Charles when 13 points and nine rebounds.
Benjamin “Tre" Williams added eight points and seven rebounds for Claflin.
Paine was led by Malcolm Whittington with 12 points and Fadil Robinson at 10.
After leading 39-21 at the half, the Panthers held a double-digit lead until Paine cut the lead to 49-40 with 10:42 left. Paine got no closer as the Panthers reeled off eight straight points for a 57-40 lead with 6:34 left.
Paine did mange to outscore Claflin, 13-9, over the last six minutes of the game.
Following 3-pointers by Paine’s Babe Murphy and Claflin Triston Thompson, the Panthers scored 12 unanswered points. The scoring spree by the Claflin offense gave the Panthers a 15-3 lead at the 14:25 mark.
Over the next 6:10, Paine put together a 12-6 run to close the gap at 21-15 with 8:15 showing on the clock.
The six-point deficit was the closest for the Lions got, as Claflin reeled off 18 of the final 24 points of the half to lead 39-21 at the half.