March 1, 1999
Box Score Clemson Postgame Audio North Carolina Postgame Audio
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – No. 13 Clemson used a relentless inside game and some timely outside shooting to capture its second Atlantic Coast Conference title with an 87-72 victory against No. 11 North Carolina on Monday night.
The Tigers, who had lost to the Tar Heels in each of the past two ACC title games, reversed their fortunes this time by rallying from a nine-point deficit early in the second half.
Clemson (24-5) consistently outhustled the Tar Heels inside, helping the Tigers finish with 40 points in the paint.
Itoro Umoh had 17 of her 26 points in the second half and added five assists for the Tigers. A 23-percent 3-point shooter, Umoh made both of her long-range attempts against North Carolina, including a 25-footer with 4:47 to play that gave Clemson its biggest lead to that stage, 69-59.
North Carolina (26-7) had 16 turnovers that Clemson converted into 23 points, damaging the Tar Heels’ quest for their fifth league crown in six years.
The Tigers, who came into the tournament holding opponents to an ACC-low 36-percent shooting, limited North Carolina to 32 percent in the second half and 42 percent for the game.
Natasha Anderson added 18 points, Nikki Blassingame 14 and Angie Cossey 12 for the Tigers, whose other ACC title came in 1996. Top scorer Amy Geren didn’t make a field goal and finished with two points, almost 13 below her average, but Umoh more than made up for it.
North Carolina got 23 points from Juana Brown, including 17 in the first half, as well as 19 from Nikki Teasley and 11 from LaQuanda Barksdale.
Down by nine early in the second half, Clemson rallied with a 17-4 run that started with the Tigers forcing three turnovers and converting them into six points. Geren capped the run by feeding Blassingame for a fast-break layup that put Clemson up 53-49 with 13:12 remaining.
The Tigers’ strategy of forcing the ball down low helped them spend the final nine minutes in the bonus. They took the lead to stay on a free throw by Blassingame that made it 56-55 with 8:53 left, and they sealed the victory by making 11 of 12 in the final 1:59.
Clemson was up 28-25 before the Tar Heels closed the first half with an 18-8 run. Brown had seven points in the surge, helping North Carolina build its lead as high as nine points on the way to a 43-36 halftime score.
By JOE MACENKA AP Sports Writer
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