By Staff Report.
CLEMSON, SC – The Clemson Lady Tigers took down Virginia, 84-74, in Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday afternoon, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Cavaliers. Clemson’s “Big Three” of Sthefany Thomas, Shaniqua Pauldo, and Kirstyn Wright combined for 55 points on the afternoon as Clemson improved to 10-13, 3-5 ACC.
The Tigers held on despite a comeback by Virginia (12-11, 1-6 ACC) that whittled a 15-point deficit down to five with two minutes to play. The Lady Tigers showed that is was just enough cushion, as they hit 7-8 from the line in the final two minutes to ice the game.
“I thought that we were really prepared for this game,” said Head Coach Itoro Coleman, whose team does not play again until Feb. 6 at Boston College. “We knew coming in that Virginia was a really scrappy team. Their record does not reflect how good they are.”
Clemson scored 42 points in each half, the second-best scoring output of the season, and hit 10-18 from behind the arc in the victory. Thomas was one point shy of a career-high, netting 22 points, including a school-record-tying 6-9 from behind the arc. Thomas had her fifth game of the season hitting five or more threes, and entered the game fourth in the ACC in 3-pointers per game.
Wright had 17 points and six boards on 5-9 shooting, and had 13 of her points in the first half, as Clemson got out to a 27-12 lead after an early 16-4 run behind a bevy of threes from Thomas, Wright, and Kelia Shelton, who had eight points (1-2 FG, 1-1 3FG, 5-6 FT).
Defensively, the Tigers held Virginia to 8-29 (.276) shooting in the first half, in helping to build a big lead that proved to be insurmountable. By contrast, Clemson hit 14-25 from the field, including 7-11 from three.
“I thought we guarded their sets early,” said Coleman. “I thought we were being aggressive at the beginning, especially in transition. We were coming down with some key rebounds in the first half that really started our momentum.”
The Tigers outrebounded the Cavs, 43-32, in the game, and held Virginia to 36.9 percent shooting.
The Tigers led by as many as 19 at 40-21 with just over four minutes to play in the first half on a three from Wright.
Clemson went into halftime with a 42-29 lead after a pair of Shelton free throws with under a minute to play in the half.
The Cavs came out strong in the second half, cutting the lead down to six at 46-40, just three minutes into the second half, prompting a Coleman timeout. The Tigers responded, going on an 11-1 run behind six points from Pauldo and five from Lindsey Mason.
The teams traded hoops for much of the half before a 9-0 Cavs run cut the lead to six with 3:36 to play.
Clinging to a five-point lead at 75-70 with 2:00 to play, Wright found Pauldo for a layup , and the Tigers held on down the stretch as Bryelle Smith was 4-4 from the line in the final 32 seconds, and Wright hit both of her attempts.
Clemson will have their “bye week” now, as the Tigers are the only ACC team to have played eight games so far. They resume action on Sunday at Boston College in a 1:00 pm tilt.