March 12, 1999
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP)–The Clemson Tigers have a couple of things in their favor going into Friday’s opening-round NCAA tournament matchup: a No. 2 seed and homecourt advantage.
Clemson (24-5), which enjoys its highest seed in 12 tourney appearances, will host 15th-seeded Florida A&M in a Mideast Region contest at its own Littlejohn Colliseum where it was 13-2 during the season.
The Lady Tigers opened the year with 11 straight wins, but wound up finishing fourth in the ACC’s regular season standings at 11-5. The team streaked to the conference tournament title, however, by defeating, N.C. State, top-seeded Duke and North Carolina.
It was Clemson’s second ACC crown in four seasons.
“Fortunately, we were able to go through Tobacco Road,” coach Jim Davis said. “Those are impressive wins.”
The Lady Tigers have never been past the NCAA second round since 1991, but going by the seedings, this should be his best chance at the Final Four.
Should the Tigers advance, they would again have the homecourt advantage Sunday when they face either seventh-seeded Illinois or No. 10 Louisville.
The Tigers come into the tournament holding opponents to an ACC-low 36 percent shooting, and are also an offensive force to be reckoned with.
Amy Geren’s 14.1-point average leads four players in double figures. Itoro Umoh averages 13 points, followed by Natasha Anderson at 12.4. Nikki Blassingame averages 10.3 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds.
Umoh led Clemson to an 87-72 victory over North Carolina in the ACC title game on March 1. The senior point guard finished with 26 points and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Teresa Jenkins had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocked shots Saturday as Florida A&M (18-11) beat Hampton 69-47 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship on Saturday.
Jenkins leads the team with 13.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, followed by Akita Heatly averaging 13 points.
If Clemson can get free of the subregional, top-seeded Connecticut, third-seeded Georgia and fourth-seeded Iowa State could be waiting in Cincinnati.
“In our eyes there’s not anyone on the other side of the bracket that Clemson can’t beat,” Davis said.
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