CLEMSON, SC - The Clemson women's basketball won for a third straight time as they topped Samford, 63-51, in Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. Clemson (4-7) has now won four out of five games in December, with all four wins coming by double-figures.
Samford (5-5) knocked a 15-point halftime deficit to just two points, but the Lady Tigers held strong and pulled away with a 14-4 run midway through the second half to ice the win.
The Lady Tigers were outstanding in controlling the paint, outscoring the Bulldogs 40-18 and outrebounding them, 42-24. In fact, of Samford's 32 missed shots, Clemson corralled 30 of them, surrendering just two offensive rebounds to the Bulldogs. The 24 rebounds allowed is the tied for the seventh-fewest all-time, and the fewest since 2009, when Charleston Southern only had 24 boards.
"This was a great team win," said Head Coach Itoro Coleman. "I thought we played well, especially in the beginning. We came out with a lot of energy. We were able to rebound the ball well and get some easy baskets. we finished with 40 points in the paint, and not all from the post players."
During their three-game winning streak, the Lady Tigers have made a concerted effort to take the ball to the rim, taking a total 14 three-pointers, while shooting 69-134 (.515) from inside the arc and attempting an average of 28 free throws per game.
"I think we're doing a better job of taking good shots," explained Coleman. "For us, a good shot is getting the ball inside and get to the paint, and then getting to our mid-range game. We'll hit the three's once they are there, but we don't want to settle."
Clemson held their eighth opponent of the season below 60 points, just one fewer than their total all of last season, and one more than the whole 2010-11 season.
Chancie Dunn scored 14 points to lead Clemson, the second-best output of her career, and also pulled down six rebounds. Nikki Dixon had 13 points, her sixth straight game in double-figures, and had nine of those in the second half. Quinyotta Pettaway also hit double-figures and pulled down 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season and sixth of her career.
Aisha Turner added nine points and two assists in a team-high 35 minutes. Charmaine Tay made her debut for Clemson with seven points, seven rebounds, and two steals in 31 minutes.
The Lady Tigers scored the first two hoops of the game, the first coming on a Natiece ford put-back 25 seconds in, an indication of how the game would go. Clemson would stretch a lead to 16-8 ten minutes after scoring eight straight points over a four-minute span. The lead grew to 13 with less than a minute when Kelly Gramlich knocked in a perimeter jumper off an inbounds play. Turner hit a pair of free throws just before the break to give Clemson a 32-17 lead at the half.
Samford's potent three-point offense didn't stay down for long in the second half, as they hit five of their first six attempts to cut Clemson's lead to two at the 10:25 mark before Ford and Dixon struck with layups to push it back out to six. Clemson was able to push the lead to nine with five minutes to play on a pair of Dunn freebies.
Defensively, Clemson did not allow a field goal in the final 3:48 of game time on their way to the 12-point win.
The game was Clemson's final non-conference meeting, as they'll pick up with North Carolina on December 30 after breaking for the holidays. The ACC has moved to an 18-game regular season for the women this season.