After a back-and-forth game Clemson held on to defeat Illinois 69-67 in overtime for a second-straight win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge after a close win over Nebraska a year ago.
Despite turning the ball over 24 times in the game, the Lady Tigers dominated the boards finishing plus-13 in the rebound margin. Kobi Thornton and Tylar Bennett combined for 37 boards with 14 and 17 respectively.
First year head coach Amanda Butler is pleased with how her team bounced back after facing adversity throughout the game.
“There is a lot of room to grow but I am really proud of our toughness and the way we bounced back,” Butler said. “It is a really good demonstration that this team’s belief in themselves is growing.”
At one point the Lady Tigers (4-3) led by as many as 16 points in the third quarter but the Illini (4-2) did not go away easily. Illinois fought back with an 11-0 run in the third quarter and 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a 53-52 lead with 6:33 to play in regulation.
The game went to overtime after Illinois junior guard Brandi Beasley nailed a corner three with nine seconds left to tie the score at 63 with nine seconds remaining and the Lady Tigers turned the ball over on their final possession.
After an up-and-down game in regulation Clemson closed it out in overtime on the free throw line despite senior Danielle Edwards, who finished the game with 18 points, fouling out with 2:40 to play in the contest.
Thornton stood strong for the Lady Tigers inside with 23 points and 14 boards. Four players finished with double digits, Edwards, Thornton, Bennett and Hosendove in an overall team effort that showed Butler her team is heading in a positive direction.
“We had adversity in ever shape tonight, we had players that stepped up and made plays in different moments,” Butler said. “We will look and see we could have done better but protecting your home court and a win for the ACC in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge has us excited.”
Clemson returns to action Sunday at 2 p.m. as it hosts Belmont in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Photo is courtesy of Clemson University Athletics.