CLEMSON, S.C. — Opening the 2020-21 season with a commanding victory, Clemson defeated Furman 83-43 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday. Gabby Elliott, Weronika Hipp and Delicia Washington showed out and scored in double figures in their Tiger debuts. Closing out the game on a 20-0 run, the Tigers ran away with their season-opening win, dominating the Paladins from start to finish.
Clemson (1-0) shot 49.2 percent overall, and Furman (0-1) was limited to a shooting percentage of 28.3. The Tigers connected on 7-of-18 shots from beyond the arc and racked up 28 points off the Paladins’ 21 turnovers. Clemson outrebounded Furman 43-36 and recorded 38 points in the paint and 28 points off the bench. The 40-point win marked the largest margin of victory in a Clemson home opener since the Tigers defeated UNC Asheville 93-26 on Nov. 14, 1998.
After sitting out last season as a transfer, Washington fared well in her first Tiger performance, going 6-of-8 from the field and finishing with 14 points and three rebounds. As for Elliott and Hipp, the true freshmen played like veterans while introducing themselves to the college game. Elliott, who shot 9-of-14 from the floor, led all scorers with 23 points and also tallied six boards. Hipp went 4-for-7 on field goal attempts, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers as part of her 11-point showing. Kendall Spray made three treys and tabbed three steals and two assists, as well. Tylar Bennett pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and matched a career-best mark with five blocks. Furman’s Tierra Hodges garnered a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards.
Washington set the tone for Clemson out of the gate by netting the first points of the game via a jumper. The Tigers led 10-2 early on and sported a 15-12 lead through one quarter of action. Elliott closed out of the first quarter by with a buzzer-beater in the lane after receiving a perfect feed from Hipp on the inbound pass. In the first half, Clemson made five three-balls and forced 12 turnovers en route to leading 37-21 at the intermission.
After outscoring Furman 22-9 in the second period, Clemson continued to pull away in the third quarter. Eleven different Tigers scored on the afternoon, with great ball movement serving as a fixture in the rout. In the fourth quarter, yet another perfectly placed inbound pass worked in Clemson’s favor, with Shania Meertens throwing a home run to Danae McNeal, who broke free down the court and laid it in. The Paladins were held scoreless for the final 6:56 of action, as Clemson came away with a lopsided 83-43 triumph.
Following a short turnaround, the Tigers will return to the court and battle the Presbyterian College Blue Hose (0-0) on Friday, Nov. 27. The contest at Littlejohn will tip off at 5 p.m. and air on ACC Network.
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Head Coach Amanda Butler
Opening statement:“I’m really proud of our squad today. This was a great way to start the 2020-21 season. There’s no question we want to be a team that has a lot of gas left in the tank in the fourth quarter. We want to separate ourselves through our depth and energy. Collectively, this game was a really good indicator of what we can be.”
On the debut performances by freshmen Gabby Elliott and Weronika Hipp:“They did a really good job of being aggressive, finding their spots and knowing where we expected their shots to come. I’m really proud of their debuts.”
On her team’s defensive showing:“We wanted to disrupt Furman and take them out of their comfort zone. We wanted to limit how may times Tierra Hodges could have the ball in her spots because she can be a dangerous shooter. Overall, we did a really good job of limiting them.”
On returning to play:“It was great to be back in Littlejohn Coliseum and have bodies in the seats. Hopefully, we’ll have even more bodies in the seats on Friday.”