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Jan 21, 2019

Tiger Talk: Comeback Cats

It would not be misnomer to label the Clemson women’s basketball team the ‘Comeback Cats,’ looking at the Tigers play of late. Clemson lived up to the nickname once again on Sunday as it stormed back from down 12 in Pittsburgh to defeat the Panthers by a final score of 65-59.

Sunday’s second-half comeback marks the third time in five games that the Tigers have rallied in the final 20 minutes to emerge victorious over their opponents. The other two instances came at rv/23 Miami and at home against a gritty Virginia team, with Clemson trailing heading into the fourth quarter in both games.

“We played much better defense in the second half and were much closer to what we are as a team,” said head coach Amanda Butler. “Chyna [Cotton] made a difference and was really focused, and Aliyah [Collier] was great from a scoring standpoint.”

Clemson’s first half was less than ideal as the Tigers were unable to take the lead at any point in the first 20 minutes. Much of that was due to the lack of ball control, an issue that manifested itself in the form of 16 turnovers in the first half alone. The Panthers capitalized on Clemson’s struggles, converting the turnovers into points (nine).

Despite the lack of control, the Tigers hung with the Panthers, shooting 42.3 percent from the field and hauling in 18 rebounds in the first half. Solid shooting and resilient defense (five blocks, seven steals) kept it a 5-point game heading into the locker room at half.

Coming out of the locker room, it seemed like the first-half Tigers were still playing as Pitt quickly went up by 12 thanks to a 9-2 run out of the gates. However, a media timeout and a short huddle later, the Tigers put their noses to the ground and started clawing back itno the game.

Clemson’s shooting was much of the same in the second half at 44 percent, but the real turnaround came in the Tigers ability to make each possession count. With just six turnovers in the entire second half, Clemson was more controlled taking the ball up the court and executing the plays drawn up.

The Tigers converted on 50 percent of their offensive possessions, a huge leap up from the 34.2 conversion rate in the first half. Furthermore, Clemson started playing like the more aggressive, confident team on the court, drawing fouls and getting to the line 18 times in the second half, compared to three in the first 20 minutes.

A second-half team by nature, the Tigers proved once again that they can never be counted out, no matter the score. On a five-game win streak, Clemson currently sits tied with Louisville for third in the ACC with a 5-1 conference record. The Tigers look to make it 6-1 on Thursday when they travel to Raleigh to take on No. 8 NC State.