Omari Murray scored 15 points and Juron Dobbs and Andrew Bachanov added 14 apiece as the Lakers fell to 7-8 overall and 3-5 in the Peach Belt Conference.
From the opening tip, the Lakers had all the momentum, scoring the first six points of the game and building a lead as large as nine points. The Lakers would play with the lead for the rest of the half but would only own a 38-37 edge at the break.
Then to make matters worse, UNC-Pembroke would come out of the locker room with more energy, resulting in a 13-4 run for a 50-42 advantage and the lead for good. George Blakeney (17 points, 12 rebounds) highlighted the burst with nine points.
“Our inability to finish the half well played a factor in their confidence level,” CSU men’s coach Gordon Gibbons said. “This is only their second win on the road. I think their confidence would’ve been a little bit shattered and it would’ve put us in a better position in the second half.”
The Lakers would climb back within three points but would eventually fall behind by as many as 13 points before crawling within five points with just seconds to play.
“Our team plays sometimes like a young team,” Gibbons said. “I thought in the early part of the second half when they were able to stretch the lead out to 10 we did not play with any confidence and that is disappointing.”
Brandon Winford scored 15 points and Quamain Rose had 14 for the Braves, who also held a 43-27 advantage in the rebounding department.
“Whenever you get physically whipped on the boards that is a tough thing for a team to take, especially a team like ours that has been built over the years around defense,” Gibbons said. “You got to finish a defensive possession off with a box out and a rebound.”
Earlier in the day, the Lady Lakers improved to 15-0 overall and 6-0 in the Peach Belt with a 67-46 win over the Lady Braves. Kayla Mobley finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five steals and Bena Hanyard scored 12 points.
On Monday, Drameka Griggs scored a career-high 32 points in the Lady Lakers' 80-66 victory over Francis Marion. Unfortunately, the men's team lost 70-61.
Both Clayton State squads host Young Harris on Thursday.