SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sparked by an epic performance by sharp-shooter Kendall Spray, Clemson put an end to Notre Dame’s 58-game home winning streak in ACC play on Sunday. The Tigers downed the Fighting Irish 71-55 at the Purcell Pavilion at the Edmund P. Joyce Center, and Spray led the way with eight 3-pointers. Clemson made history with its winning performance, as the loss by the Fighting Irish marked the program’s first home defeat in conference play since joining the ACC in 2013.
Clemson (5-8, 1-1) shot 40.6 percent from the floor as part of a well-rounded offensive showing. Notre Dame (5-8, 0-1) compiled a 31.3 shooting percentage and was forced into committing 20 turnovers. The Tigers’ superb shooting from beyond the arc made the difference in the game, with Clemson going 9-of-18 from 3-point range. Down low, Clemson recorded 32 points in the paint and won the rebounding margin over Notre Dame by a tally of 47-41.
Spray made history via her stellar afternoon, as she matched Clemson legend Kelly Gramlich’s single-game 3-point record. Going 8-of-14 from deep, Spray equaled Gramlich’s program-best mark and also scored a season-high 24 points. Kobi Thornton combined with Spray to man the Tigers’ efforts, with Thornton knocking down 11 shots en route to finishing with 23 points to go along with her six rebounds. Speaking of rebounds, Nique Cherry, who scored six points, provided the Tigers with a big lift off the bench by way of her game-high 11 boards. Destiny Thomas had a huge day for the Tigers, as well, dishing out a career-high 12 assists. Notre Dame’s Katlyn Gilbert amassed 16 points and was the leading scorer for the Fighting Irish.
Clemson led for over 35 minutes of action, building up a 23-20 lead at the end of the first quarter and maintaining control of the matchup the rest of the way. In the opening quarter, the Tigers forced six turnovers, and that set the stage for a dominant defensive showing in the second quarter by Clemson. Notre Dame was held to six points in the second quarter, as Clemson boasted a 35-17 advantage at the intermission.
Scoring 15 of her 24 points in the first half, Spray capped off a 12-2 run put together by Clemson over the course of the final 5:45 of the second quarter with treys on back-to-back Tiger possessions. Spray connected on back-to-back 3-balls again in the third quarter, resulting in Clemson going up 46-21 at the 6:57 mark. Heading into the fourth quarter, Clemson led 55-31. Despite Notre Dame outscoring the Tigers 24-16 in the final period, the Tigers were never threatened down the stretch, with Clemson pulling out an emphatic 71-55 triumph and making ACC history in the process.
Riding high off the notable victory, the Tigers will return home to Littlejohn Coliseum for their next contest. Clemson will kick off its 2020 slate by taking on the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (12-1, 1-0) on Thursday, Jan. 2. The game will air on ACC Network Extra, with the opening tip scheduled for 7 p.m.
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