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Tigers Eliminated from ACC Tournament by NC State, 59-54

March 4, 2010

Box Score | Clemson Press Conference

GREENSBORO, NC – Lele Hardy and Sthefany Thomas had big second halves, but it wasn’t enough to propel Clemson past NC State in the first round of the ACC Tournament. NC State (18-12, 7-7 ACC) used a late 14-3 run to give them enough cushion to move past Clemson (13-18, 4-10 ACC), 59-54, at the Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday.

Thomas had 14 of her team-high 17 in the second half and Hardy had all 13 of her points in the second half, in Clemson’s first first-round loss since the 2007 Tournament.

Senior Christy Brown closed her career with a season-high 12 points, including keeping the Tigers afloat with nine in the first half. In all, Brown, Hardy, and Thomas accounted for 42 of Clemson’s 54 points and went 18-36 from the field, but the rest of the team went 3-24 from the floor. The Wolfpack used guard pressure to limit Clemson’s post players’ touches, and held them to a combined 1-12 from the field and 11 rebounds.

Clemson forced 22 turnovers and held NC State to only 21 field goals, but the Wolfpack controlled the glass, outrebounding the Tigers 47-33.The Tigers had 15 steals in the game, second-most on the season.

Hardy added four second-half steals, bringing her final career total to 398, which ranks 5th in ACC history and 21st in NCAA Division-I history.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, with Clemson registering a 6-25 half. However, NC State had nearly the same difficulty scoring the basketball, going 9-34 from the field. The Wolfpack led by as many as nine early in the half, but Clemson fought back before halftime, holding NC State without a field goal for nearly eight minutes, but going into the break trailing, 24-19.

Lele Hardy registered only six minutes played, as she was in foul trouble and sat for the final 14 minutes of the half. Hardy came out ready to play in the second half, however, recording three quick steals and scoring Clemson’s first seven points out of the break. She and Thomas took over the first 12 minutes of the half, accounting for Clemson’s first 25 points in the second half.

Thomas, who earned the start, but came off the bench in the second half, brought Clemson even, and then scored on an and-one to give Clemson a 34-33 lead with just over 12 minutes to play. She had ten straight points over the next three minutes, including two of the hoops to give Clemson a lead.

Hardy added her fourth steal and made a layup on the fastbreak to give Clemson a four-point lead with eight minutes to play, her 11th point of the half despite going scoreless in the first.

NC state answered to take a 47-44 lead, but an and-one form Gillespie pulled the Tigers even at 47-47. NC State then fired back with seven straight to take a 54-47 lead with 2:49 to play on a pair of buckets from Holston and a right-corner three from Kastanek, who hit three threes in the half.

Hardy hits a layup to pull Clemson to within five at 54-49 with 1:34 to play. Gillespie then forced a steal on the ensuing play, giving the Tigers an extra possession, but Gillespie missed an elbow jumper and Clemson was forced to foul inside the final minute. Christy Brown forced a steal and came down to hit a fastbreak three, but it was too little, too late as NC State hit their free throws to ice the game, 59-54.

Clemson had defeated the Pack a month earlier in Clemson, 69-56.