March 1, 1999
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Clemson Tigers will need another strong defensive effort to knock off No. 13 North Carolina on Monday and win their second ACC championship in four years.
Clemson (23-5) stopped Duke 78-71 in a semifinal on Sunday, as the Tigers shut down the most potent offense in the ACC.
“There is no secret. Our kids defend,” Clemson coach Jim Davis said after the 16th-ranked Tigers’ upset victory over No. 8 Duke. “Our kids don’t want to play zone. They want to get after people.”
Clemson held Duke without a basket for 4 minutes in the first half en route to a 43-36 halftime lead and never looked back.
The Tigers were led by Amy Geren, who had 18 points. Nikki Blassingame scored 11 of her 13 in the second half and Natasha Anderson added 12.
North Carolina (26-6), which is seeking its fifth conference championship in six years, needed just 5 minutes, 10 seconds to erase a 19-point deficit and blow past Virginia to advance to Monday’s final. The Tar Heels trailed 36-17 with six minutes left in the first half before going on a 23-4 run to close out the half.
UNC wasn’t finished, scoring 10 of the first 13 points in the second half.
“Even though we got down so far, we never fell apart. We never argued with each other,” said Nikki Teasley, who had 25 points. “Every time somebody made a mistake, the next person came up to them and said, That’s OK. We’ll get it back on defense.’ Everybody was talking to each other and everybody was communicating, and when we’re working like that, it’s going to be very tough to beat Carolina.”
Chanel Wright had a game-high 27 for North Carolina, which swept Clemson in the regular season.
North Carolina played tenacious defense as well, limiting Virginia to just 11-for-39 shooting in the final 25 minutes.
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