Feb. 28, 2010
CLEMSON, SC – Clemson’s seniors were determined to make sure the Lady Tigers won on Sunday, and backed it up with big plays down the stretch in a 67-62 win over Wake Forest (17-12, 7-7 ACC) on Sunday in Littlejohn. The Tigers (13-17, 4-10 ACC) closed out the ACC season having won four of their final five home games.
“This game was a great sign for our team; getting down, but being able to battle back,” said Head Coach Cristy McKinney. “Once we got going, we were able to push the tempo and make the shots and defensive stops that needed to be made.”
For the second consecutive game, Lele Hardy found her touch from long range, nailing 4-5 from behind the arc on her way to a 23-point night. She also added ten rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season, and had six steals, giving her 394 in her career, moving her into a tie for 21st on the NCAA Division-I all-time list. She also moved alone into fifth in ACC history in career steals.
“Lele Hardy has found her shot at the right time for us,” said McKinney. “We just need other people to step up and make plays. This win gives us some great momentum going into the tournament and is definitely a big confidence booster for us.”
The Tigers gave plenty of support on Sunday, as Sthefany Thomas had ten points, including a key and-one with 4:43 to play to put Clemson ahead by five, and a pair of free throws with 1:11 remaining to tie the game.
Clemson took a lead as large as 13 at the 16:05 mark of the second half. Hardy knocked in three straight three-pointers in the first three minutes of the second half, and the found Christy Brown with a no-look pass on the fast break, giving Clemson the 47-34 edge with 16:05 to play.
“We had some great defensive stop,” said McKinney. “After we made all those threes (in the second half), we sort of stopped playing defense. But after we settled down, we were able to get the stops when we needed them, especially in the last part of the games.”
Wake Forest responded, however, closing the gap to three in little more than five minutes, 49-46, a 12-2 run. Clemson stretched the lead back to ten with 7:41 to play at 56-46, but again, Wake had an answer, tying the game at 59 with 3:08 to play. Wake took a 62-60 lead on a pair of Courteney Morris free throws with 1:26 left, but a pair of free throws form Thomas tied it back up, and a pair of free throws from Hardy after a key steal put Clemson back up 64-62.
Clemson then got a stop at the defensive end, and Wake fouled, sending Jasmine Tate to the line. The junior missed the first, but Hardy skied for her ninth rebound and found Gillespie, who was fouled and hit one of two. Wake came back down, 65-62, and launched a three with 12 seconds to play, but Hardy cleared away the miss and hit both free throws on the way to icing the game for Clemson.
Clemson’s seniors played a crucial role in the victory, as they played a combine 100 minutes, had 34 points, 17 rebounds, 10 steals, 8 assists, and were 10-13 from the line. The four conference wins are the most since the 2007-08 team went 4-10.
The highlight of the game came in the first half, when Hardy tracked down Secily Ray in the open court, blocking her layup attempt to Keyrra Gillespie, who found Thomas, who hit Pauldo on the run for a layup, and she was fouled by Tiffany Roulhac to give Clemson a 27-22 lead.
Hardy finished a stellar week in which she averaged 25.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 4.5 steals, and closes her regular season career with 1,558 points (5th), 931 rebounds (3rd), and 394 steals (1st), but will have a chance to add to those totals in the tournament. The senior entered the contest in the top ten in the ACC in scoring, rebounds, and steals.
Clemson Women’s Basketball Learns ACC Tournament Matchup
GREENSBORO, NC – The Clemson women’s basketball team will square off with NC State in the first round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday at 8:00 pm at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Atlantic Coast Conference made the announcement after the conclusion of Sunday games.
The Tigers finished the regular season 13-17, and 4-10 in the ACC, earning the 11th seed. NC State is 17-12 and 7-7 in the league on the season, and is the sixth seed in the tournament.
Clemson has won two of its last three games, including a 67-62 win over Wake Forest on senior day Sunday. The Tigers defeated the Wolfpack earlier this season, 69-56 on Jan. 31.
NC State is also Cristy McKinney’s alma mater. McKinney was a four-time letterwinner and had more than 1300 points and 500 rebounds for NC State.
The Tigers posted a winning league mark at home for the first time since 2003-04 this season.
The 33rd Annual ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament is set to tip-off at approximately 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 4, and will conclude with a 1 p.m. championship contest on Sunday, March 7. The title game as well as the semifinals showings will be broadcast by Fox Sports Net (FSN) in high definition, while the 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. games on Thursday, March 4, and Friday, March 5, will be televised on the league’s regional package (RSN).
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