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Hardy’s Last-Second Heroics Lead Clemson Past Miami in Overtime

Hardy’s Last-Second Heroics Lead Clemson Past Miami in Overtime

Feb. 18, 2010

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CLEMSON, SC – Lele Hardy hit each of her final three field goal attempts, and Sthefany Thomas had 18 points, including a key overtime three-pointer to lead Clemson past Miami, 73-72 in overtime on Thursday night. Clemson (12-16, 3-9 ACC) improves to 12-1 when reaching the 65-point plateau, and became the first team to win on their home court in the series with Miami (16-10, 3-8 ACC) in five games.

“This game was really a confidence booster for us. We feel like the rest of the games are winnable so this definitely sets the tone for the rest of the season”, said head coach Cristy McKinney. “We talked in the locker room before the game about the importance of this game as a Pink Zone game. We talked about Kay Yow and how she fought; how she fought against her cancer and how she fought as a coach. I really feel like we brought that intensity tonight and honored her with our playing.”

The Lady Tigers donned their pink uniforms for the contest, Clemson’s designated Pink Zone game, which aimed to raise funds for the Kay Yow foundation.

It was a night of buzzer-beaters for Clemson, who had field goals to beat each end of a period; two from Hardy, and one from Thomas.

Clemson trailed by four points, 72-68, with 48 seconds to play after Riquna Williams drilled a left-wing three pointer. Miami called timeout on the basket, and McKinney drew up a play to find Thomas on the right wing off a baseline stagger screen. Thomas caught the pass from Gillespie, who matched a career-high with 10 assists, and swished home the three to bring Clemson within one with 36.6 to play.

“We really needed this game. We just never gave up,” said Head Coach Cristy McKinney. “When we were down in regulation and then down in overtime, we were able to hit big shots.”

The Clemson defense held as well, as Christy Brown came away with a rebound off a Williams miss with less than eight seconds to play. She rushed up court and found Hardy, who layed the ball up, giving Clemson a 72-71 lead with 0.8 seconds on the clock. She then deflected the long inbounds pass to put the game away.

Hardy had been 1-15 in the contest, before hitting a fastbreak layup with 3.6 seconds in regulation to send the game to overtime, which also moved her into sixth on Clemson’s all-time scoring list and put her over the 1500 point plateau for her career. She also nailed a high-arching three in overtime from the left wing with 2:17 left, answering Williams’ three that had put the Hurricanes ahead by five with 2:46 to play.

Shenise Johnson led all scorers with 22 points, while Williams had 17. The Hurricanes had three other players in double-figures as well.

Thomas finished with a team-high 18 points and pulled down a career-high seven rebounds, and also hit four of her seven three-point attempts. Shaniqua Pauldo had 17 points on the night, going 8-12, and had 12 of Clemson’s first 19 points, all in the first eight minutes of the game.

Jasmine Tate played crucial minutes off the bench, registering 10 points and nine rebounds, including four of Clemson’s 19 offensive boards. Hardy also had nine rebounds, and entered the contest second in the conference in rebounding. She also had two steals, moving her into 24th place on the NCAA Division-I steals list with 385 in her career.

Clemson moved to 9-0 when leading at halftime, as a Thomas three pushed the Tigers in front, 31-29 with a three with fewer than three seconds before half.

It was a game of runs for most of the night, with Miami fighting back from a 24-13 deficit to eventually take their biggest lead of the game, 41-33, when they stormed out of halftime on a 12-2 run. Clemson responded with an 11-0 run to take the lead back at 44-41, on a mid-range jumper from Brown, who also tied a season-high with four assists.

Gillespie had 10 assists for the game, including several key finds that pulled the Tigers ahead. She entered the game ranked fourth in the ACC in assists per game.

Clemson controlled the glass in the game, take a 15-rebounds advantage going into halftime, and finishing with a 48-35 advantage.

The Tigers have won two straight in the series, winning a season ago, 74-68 in Coral Gables. Clemson returns to action a week from Thursday as they will travel to Blacksburg for a date with the Hokies. They will then return home for the regular season finale against Wake Forest on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2:00 pm.