CLEMSON, S.C. — Hanging on for an impressive win over Florida State, the Clemson Tigers outlasted the Seminoles on Thursday. In the final minute, with the game all even at 69 points apiece, Clemson used a few trips to the free throw line and clutch defense to come away with a hard-fought 72-69 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum.
In addition to shooting 45.0 percent from the floor, Clemson (7-1, 2-1) connected on six shots from beyond the arc. Florida State (2-1, 1-1) finished with a field goal percentage of 35.8 and made 17-of-19 free throws. The Tigers scored 14 points off 21 Seminole turnovers and corralled 38 rebounds. Florida State collected 41 rebounds and scored 36 points in the paint. Clemson tallied 36 points in the paint, as well, and also scored 19 points off the bench and 15 points out of the fast break.
The trio of Gabby Elliott, Kendall Spray and Delicia Washington led the Tigers on the night. Elliott scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go along with her five rebounds and three assists. Spray made four 3-pointers and ended up with 17 points. She also tabbed five boards. Washington recorded 15 points and six rebounds, as the Florida native and former Florida Gator was on the winning end of a contest against Florida State for the first time in her career. Additionally, Tylar Bennett, who gathered four rebounds, continued to make her mark as one the nation’s top shot blockers with five blocks to her name. Florida State’s Kourtney Weber led all scorers with 21 points.
Spray provided Clemson with an early 6-0 lead by knocking down a pair of threes. Elliott made a trey soon afterward to place the Tigers ahead 9-2. Clemson went on to lead 21-15 at the end of the first quarter. Washington scored on an athletic drive to the basket to start the second quarter, and the Tigers led by double digits soon after that. A Florida State run resulted in the game being tied at 29-29, but Spray broke the tie with a pull-up 3-pointer in transition. At halftime, the contest was knotted up at 36-36.
The Tigers outscored the Seminoles in the third quarter, though, boasting a 53-50 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Bennett tallied a couple of emphatic blocks in the third period, and Weronika Hipp benefited from a friendly roll on a three-ball. In the final period of play, Spray swished a 3-pointer of her own, which increased the Tigers’ lead to five points with 7:19 remaining, and Elliott converted a steal into a pivotal layup with 3:27 left on the game clock. Bennett blocked yet another shot down the stretch, and Clemson’s defense made the ultimate difference, with the Seminoles failing to score in the final 30 seconds and the Tigers winning 72-69.
Clemson will next take on Notre Dame (3-3, 1-1) at Littlejohn. Scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20, the game between the Tigers and the Fighting Irish will air on a regional sports network (RSN).
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Head Coach Amanda Butler
Opening statement:“I’m super proud of our effort. We had outstanding energy and resilience. We got the rebounds and made the plays when they mattered, and, fortunately, they were enough. I’m really proud of the entire team because everybody had a moment that was pivotal. I feel like everybody who got on the floor did something significant for us.”
On the performances by Clemson’s seniors:“I feel like everything is always going to begin and end with your seniors. Our seniors played with a great deal of urgency and conviction on the defensive end. Tylar’s [Bennett] blocks were absolutely huge. Destiny [Thomas] was a defensive nightmare for Florida State. Kendall [Spray] shot with confidence out of the gate. Shania [Meertens] boxed out well. When you’re senior-led, you’ve got a great chance every game.”
On Delicia Washington’s first win over Florida State:“She was especially hyped for this one. She did her thing. She picked her spots to attack and got rebounds for us. I’m really happy for her. When you’re a Florida kid, these are the moments you cherish.”