CLEMSON, S.C. – Georgia Tech (15-13, 5-9 ACC) used a 13-0 second-half run to pull away from Clemson (9-18, 1-13 ACC), 71-59, on Sunday in the annual Play4Kay Pink game at Littlejohn Coliseum. Senior Nikki Dixon, an Alpharetta, Ga. native, put in one of her finest all-around efforts of the season totaling 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
After Georgia Tech ran out to an early 7-2 lead before the Tigers fought back. In the first half, the teams were never separated by more than five points the whole way, with a pair of Dixon free throws giving the Tigers their first lead at 25-24. However, Tech struck back to take a 33-29 lead at halftime.
Clemson scored the first bucket out of the break, and after Chelsea Lindsay cut the lead to one with 18:18 to play in the game. However, Georgia Tech held the Tigers scoreless over the next five minutes while netting 13 to take a 47-33 lead. The Tigers never got it back under double-figures the rest of the way.
Shelbie Davenport added 12 points on 4-8 shooting, her fourth double-figure effort in the last five games, and her 11th of the season.
Kaela Davis, the ACC’s second-leading scorer, put in 21 of her 24 after the break. Rodrekka Rogers tallied 14 points and 19 rebounds, her second double-double against the Tigers this season.
Sunday marked Dixon’s 24th game of the season in double figures and seventh 20+ game of the year. Dixon attempted 10 free throws in the first half, the most by any Tiger in the first half this season. The Tigers also got it done from the bench, finishing with 32 bench points to Georgia Tech’s 13, the 11th time this year the bench has chipped in 30 or more.
The Tigers were solid from the free throw line, going 16-19 (84%) from the charity stripe against the Yellow Jackets. Dixon finished the game with 612 career free throw attempts, and needs just three more attempts to pass Clemson legend Barbara Kennedy-Dixon as the Tigers’ all-time leader in that category.
Clemson managed to take the lead twice in the first half, but Georgia Tech’s three point shooting allowed them to retake the lead despite the Tigers’ best defensive efforts. Clemson held Georgia Tech to .365 from the field, the lowest field goal percentage by a Tiger opponent in ACC play this season.
The Tigers will honor seniors Nikki Dixon and Chelsea Lindsay on Thursday at 7 p.m. as they take on Syracuse in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Head Coach Audra Smith Quotes:
“I thought we did a good job especially in the first half, and we had an opportunity to take care of things in the first half and make a push, but we weren’t able to do that.”
“We will get there. We’re getting there and we’re getting better, but we’ve got to be able to stay in ball game when teams make runs. And that comes with experience. As you get older you understand how to manage the game and understand the game is in runs.”
“The season goes on. We have two more regular season games, and we’re going to keep working, keep scratching and clawing, and get those taken care of heading into the ACC Tournament. We’ve got to keep it moving so that’s what we’ll do.”
Kelly Gramlich At the Buzzer:
If someone asked me which ACC team I enjoyed beating the most when I played for Clemson, the answer would easily be Georgia Tech. Clemson and Georgia Tech play twice a year and it is always a battle, no matter the rankings or records of each team. The Tigers and Yellow Jackets have already played once this year in a game that the Tigers lost by eight in Atlanta. I expected the Tigers to come out ready to play and avenge the January loss to their ACC rivals, and they did. Clemson played one of their best first halfs of the season and trailed by only four at intermission. The Tigers helped themselves significantly in the first half, as Kaela Davis, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer sat the bench for the majority of the half after picking up three fouls. Tiger leading scorer Nikki Dixon, took advantage of Davis’s absence, scoring 13 first half points and finishing the game with 23.
A defining characteristic of most matchups between the Tigers and Yellow Jackets is that the game is extremely physical and today’s contest was no different. In the first half alone, the two teams combined for 22 fouls in only 20 minutes of play. At the final buzzer, the Yellow Jackets and Tigers had committed 42 fouls combined. I think the Yellow Jackets’ physicality eventually wore the Tigers down, especially the Clemson freshmen who were playing Georgia Tech for only the second time in their young careers. Kaela Davis led the Yellow Jackets in the second half, scoring 21 points in the half and keeping herself out of foul trouble after picking up three in the first half. In the final two ACC matchups, the Tigers have to continue to play physical, but try not foul excessively. The Tigers put Georgia Tech on the free throw line 29 times today, which allowed the Yellow Jackets to score too many free points.
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