Clayton's defense lifts Matador men over Royals
Charles Harral still isn't sure where his scoring is going to come from not only from game-to-game, but even minute-to-minute within a game.
On Friday, the offensive picture didn't clear up any for the Arizona Western men's basketball head coach, with five players scoring at least eight points.
But one trend continued to emerge for the Matadors — the defense of Tanner Clayton.
Clayton scored 11 to go with 20 rebounds and six blocks as Arizona Western topped Lake Region State 69-57 Friday at The House in the 8th Annual Wells Fargo Classic.
The Matadors never trailed in the game and never led by less than seven in the last 7:46, but Harral said that Clayton gave the Matadors (6-3) the win.
“I think without Tanner we lose going away,” Harral said. “He was terrific in every phase of the game. Not only did he get 20 rebounds, he had six or seven where he was just tapping it to keep it alive where somebody else got it.”
Lake Region State (5-1) tied the game at nine after a 7-0 run. But the Matadors went on a 23-6 run with Darien Walker scoring 13 of his game-high 18 during that stretch.â€¨The Royals cut the lead to three early in the second half, but AWC went up 51-41 with 11:42 and the lead never shrunk below six the rest of the way.
“We've had a couple games where we've had 10 to 12 point leads and given it up,” Clayton said. “Tonight we were able to hold on. It was a big one for us.”
Harral said there was never a rhythm to the game.
“We got ahead early, they would get it to eight or nine, then we'd get it back to 11 or 12 and it seemed to stay there the whole night,” Harral said. “We could never really capitalize on anything. I think we've been traveling a lot — not that that's an excuse — but we've had a lot of games. Tomorrow will be our sixth game in 11 days. Maybe we need some time off, I don't know. I just think we have to do a lot better if we want to win.”
Marvin Whitt had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Matadors, while Keywhon Powns added 11. Carlos Perez had eight points and nine rebounds for AWC as well.
“We're a team, we play as a team, we all share the ball and we play together,” Harral said. “We're going to have different guys step up on different nights, that's what a team does. But again, I think we have to get a lot better with our ball movement and be more careful with the basketball.”
Jay Sewer had 17 points and seven rebounds, both team-highs for the Royals. AWC finished with a 57-32 rebounding edge.
The Matadors play tonight against New Mexico Military, which defeated AWC on a buzzer beating 3-pointer at the Bronco Classic last week.