ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Austin Lawton scored a team-high 21 points as Elizabeth City State (ECSU) defeated Claflin University, 77-69, in a Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) contest on Monday.
Claflin falls to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the CIAA.
Lawton, playing in just his third game since returning from an injury suffered last season, was 6-of-11 from the field and near-perfect at the free throw line at 9-of-10. Lawton was five points shy of his personal best of 26 points which came against Shaw University during the 2016-17 season.
The graduate student also pulled down six rebounds and blocked two shots for Claflin.
Jaimik Moore was the only other player in double-figures for the Panthers with 14 points. Moore and Rodney Prichard, who had nine points, led Claflin in the three-point department with three each.
Cornellius Reynolds contributed six points and pulled in a team-high eight rebounds.
ECSU, 3-5 overall and 1-0 in the CIAA, was led by John Maynor with a game-high 22 points and Shyheid Petteway with 20 points.
In the second half, ECSU held the lead until Danny Brown scored on a layup, tying the contest at 31-31 with 17:06 remaining. There contest would be tied three more times over the next 3-1/2 minutes before Petteway hit pair of free throws, putting ECSU up 41-40 with 13:32 left.
The lead shifted hands again when Moore connected on a three-pointer for Claflin with 10:43 showing on the clock to give the Panthers the lead, 47-46.
The lead changed hands four more times over the next seven minutes as Daniels drained a pair of free throws for ECSU with 3:35 to put the Vikings up 65-63.
The Panthers managed to close the pull within three with 1:52 remaining, 68-65, off a layup basket by Triston Thompson, but could not get any closer.
ECSU outscored Claflin 9-4 the rest of the way.
In the first half, Moore put Claflin on top early, drilling a three-pointer at the 19:10 mark. The lead stood until Aujameq Daniels scored on a layup for ECSU at the 15:12 mark, tying the game at 7-7.
Maynor broke the tie with a three-pointer giving the Vikings a 10-7 lead, an advantage they would hold until Lawton hit a pair of free throws for the Panthers, giving Claflin its second lead of the half at 25-24 with 2:53 showing on the clock. The Panthers outscored ECSU 18-14 during the span.
The Panthers lead did not last long as Petteway hit a three-pointer 26 seconds later, giving the Vikings a 27-25 lead. Petteway’s basket would be the last points of the half, as ECSU held a two-point advantage at intermission.
Claflin will return home Thursday to face Virginia Union University as part of a CIAA double-header. Action gets underway with the women’s contest at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at approximately 7:30 or 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.