Dec. 4, 2008
Box Score | Box Score
CLEMSON, SC (AP) – Lele Hardy’s three-pointer swished through the net as time expired in regulation to send the Lady Tigers and Northwestern Wildcats into overtime in Thursday night’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Clemson then edged Northwestern by three in the extra period for the 78-75 win.
Ellen Jaeschke hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the 67-64 lead, but teammate Jenny Eckhart missed both attempts with less than five seconds left to give the Lady Tigers one last chance. Hardy pulled down the board, drove up the court and let go of a prayer from the top of the key as the clock hit 0:00. The ball sailed through to tie the score for the 14th time in the game.
“I kept telling myself and my teammates not to give up and to play until the end,” Hardy said. “After I hit the shot, I was just focused on pulling it out in overtime.”
The junior from Spartanburg, SC finished with 21 points and tied her career high with 14 rebounds. She was just two assists shy of a triple double. The win was the Lady Tigers’ fourth straight to move them to 6-2 for the year, while Northwestern dropped to 2-6 overall.
Clemson struck first in overtime with a basket by Christy Brown, but the Wildcats responded with two free throws by Brittany Orban to knot the score back at 69. Northwestern’s lone field goal in the extra period was a jumper by Amy Jaeschke from just inside the three-point line that matched the Lady Tigers’ 73 points. Sthefany Thomas then drained a three-pointer from the corner to give the lead back to Clemson and Brown made it a four-point advantage with a free throw. After two Wildcat foul shots, April Parker sealed the win from the line for the Lady Tigers, scoring her ninth point of the night.
“This win wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy, but it’s a win,” said Clemson Head Coach Cristy McKinney. “The team believed they were going to win and they made it happen. When Lele hit the shot to go into overtime, it was a great push for our girls to get out there and play hard.”
Northwestern held the slight 29-27 edge at the halftime break with 14 points from Amy Jaeschke. Bryelle Smith, the Lady Tigers’ only other player in double figures in Thursday night, knocked down a jumper to start the second half for Clemson’s 29th point. The score remained close with the lead changing hands six times in the period. Another basket for Amy Jaeschke, who finished with a game-high 34, gave the Wildcats a 59-58 advantage at the 3:03 mark.
She then converted two free throws with 1:12 remaining for a 63-60 Northwestern lead. With under a minute to go, Kirstyn Wright stole the ball and Hardy converted the lay-up on the other end. Erin Dickerson hit two foul shots to push the Wildcat lead back to three before a Parker basket put the Lady Tigers back within one at 65-64 with 44 seconds left. Ellen Jaeschke then converted her free throws to put Northwestern ahead by three, while Hardy’s heroics continued the action.
Clemson will be back in action on Saturday afternoon as the Ohio Bobcats travel to Littlejohn Coliseum. The game is now scheduled for 4:00 pm due to the NCAA Volleyball Tournament on campus.
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