Dec. 3, 2009
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Chicago, IL – With six seconds remaining in the game, junior Kirstyn Wright hit a three pointer to give the Tigers (5-3) a 69-68 victory over Northwestern (5-2) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Evanston, IL. Wright had a career-high 22 points, including 6-8 from behind the arc, while sophomore Lele Hardy had 17 points, six steals, four rebounds, three assists, and no turnovers in her 26 minutes of play.
Clemson is now 2-1 in the Challenge, winning each of the past two seasons against Northwestern by a combined four points. A season ago, Hardy hit a three pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, which the Tigers prevailed, 78-75.
The Tigers entered the second half down 36-34, but got off to a slow start. Northwestern scored the first ten points of the half before a basket by Kirstyn Wright pulled the Tigers within ten points. The Tigers traded buckets with the Wildcats before Wright scored 11 consecutive points to tie the game at 50-50 with 10:44 remaining in the game.
Northwestern took a three-point lead on a basket by Brittany Orban, who led the Wildcats with 21 points, but the Tigers were able to respond with three free throws to tie the game at 53-53 with 8:11 remaining.
Clemson got eight straight points from Lele Hardy hit her first field goal of the second half with 3:23 remaining to put the Tigers up 64-60. Brittany Orban hit a layup to cut the lead to two and then four free throws by Amy Jaeschke put Northwestern up by two with 1:37 left.
Lele Hardy made a key steal and hit a layup with 36.6 seconds left to tie the game at 66 apiece. With 8.4 seconds left on the clock, Brittany Orban drove the lane and made a layup to put the Wildcats up by two.
The Tigers remained calm under pressure and dribbled the length of the court. On a pass from Kirstyn Wright hit the game-winning three-pointer with six seconds left on the clock, her sixth made three of the game.
“We could have layed down, but we came back and fought,” said Head Coach Cristy McKinney. “I’m very proud of our effort tonight.”
The Tigers mixed up the starting lineup, with Keyrra Gillespie coming off the bench. The freshman didn’t flinch, registering eight assists in 27 minutes of play. Gillespie entered the game ranked first in the ACC in assists per game.
With her six steals, Hardy now is only eleven shy of Clemson’s all-time record.
The Tigers will host Charleston Southern at 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 6 at Littlejohn Coliseum following the men’s basketball game at 1:00.
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