February 28, 1999
Box Score Clemson Postgame Audio Duke Postgame Audio
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Itoro Umoh had 17 points and No. 16 Clemson earned its fourth straight trip to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game with a 76-71 victory Sunday over No. 8 Duke, which was no match for the league’s top defense.
Umoh added five steals, three assists and several key defensive plays down the stretch as the fourth-seeded Tigers (23-5) put themselves in position for a shot at the school’s second ACC championship in four years.
Duke (24-6) was ousted in the semifinals for the third year in a row, but this one came after the Blue Devils went a school-record 15-1 in the regular season. Their only loss was at Clemson on Feb. 14.
The Tigers, who limit opponents to an ACC-low 36 percent shooting, held Duke to 42 percent shooting in that game, and they came up with another defensive gem Sunday against a team that came in shooting a league-high 48 percent. The Blue Devils were held to 46 percent shooting and went on several damaging scoring droughts.
Michele VanGorp had 19 points to lead the Blue Devils. Nicole Erickson had 15 and Hilary Howard added 13.
Clemson’s Amy Geren had 18 points, Nikki Blassingame scored 11 of her 13 in the second half and Natasha Anderson added 12.
The Tigers held Duke without a basket for almost 4 1/2 minutes just past the midway point of the first half, clearing the way for Clemson to build its lead as high as nine on the way to a 43-36 halftime lead.
Duke cut its deficit to a single point three times in the second half, the last at 58-57 on a layup by VanGorp with 7:35 left. But the Blue Devils hit another drought, this time going almost 3 1/2 minutes without a basket.
Duke’s Georgia Schweitzer drove for a layup that would have cut the Blue Devils’ deficit to a single point with 5:22 remaining, but Umoh drew a charging call on the play. An angry reaction from the Duke bench prompted a technical foul, helping the Tigers push their lead back to six points.
Duke’s best chance the rest of the way came when Lauren Rice put up an 8-footer with 14 seconds left and the Tigers ahead by two. Clemson’s Erin Batth blocked the shot, was fouled and made one free throw to make it 74-71.
Umoh stole the inbounds pass and made two free throws to account for the final margin.
By JOE MACENKA AP Sports Writer
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