Player of the Game: Charmaine Tay - The junior wing/forward had 21 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and took a charge in 38 minutes.
Stat of the Game: .551 - Clemson shot .551 (27-49) from the floor. USF had been allowing opponents to shoot just .301 on the season.
TAMPA, FL - First-year Head Coach Audra Smith earned her first signature win as Clemson’s leader, guiding the Tigers (2-3) to a 68-63 at USF (4-2) in the Sun Dome. Clemson received a career effort from junior Charmaine Tay in topping the Bulls, who won 22 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
The Bulls received the 28th-most votes in the most recent coaches poll, and their only loss on the season was to a top-ten Maryland squad. Smith’s team didn’t let that phase them, as Tay, Chancie Dunn, and Kelly Gramlich willed the team to their first road win of the year.
Smith had just seven players at her disposal, as four players missed the contest due to injury, and one to suspension. This forced the Tigers to play big minutes, including Chelsea Lindsay, who played all 40 minutes.
Tay had career-highs of 21 points, 12 rebounds, nine made field goals, and made several key plays to propel Clemson to win in 38 minutes on the floor. Tay, who actually set a career-high with 12 points after just the first half, took a key charge with less than eight minutes to play, and had two driving layups that gave Clemson a lead with less than three minutes to play.
Lindsay had the ball in her hands nearly the whole game, and because of her control of the pace, Clemson had just 12 turnovers against the Bulls, who play fast-paced defense and press most of the contest. Offensively, Clemson shot .551 against a team that had allowed just .301 shooting on the season.
The Tigers had a ten-point lead that USF whittled down, but the Bulls never led by more than one point in the game. Each time, Tay had an answer.
Kelly Gramlich had all 14 of her points in the first half, hitting four three-pointers, and Dunn scored 11 of her 13 points on 5-7 shooting.
Clemson improved to 2-1 all-time against the Bulls, including 2-0 in the Sun Dome. USF won in Clemson, 75-73, a season ago in overtime, but it was the Tigers’ turn to claim a nail-biter this season.
USF took a 61-60 lead with less than four minutes, their first lead in more than 35 minutes, when they held a 1-0 lead. Tay had Clemson’s answer with a driving layup, and the Tigers forced misses on each of the next two defensive possessions, clinging to a 62-61 lead with 2:21 to play.
Tay had her next shot blocked, and USF ran the break, converting with just over 2:00 to play and taking a 63-62 lead. Tay answered back with her 20th point on a driving layup with 1:27 to play.
Clemson sent Alisia Jenkins to the line with just under a minute left, and the Bull missed both, with Tay pulling down the board. At the other end, Tay again had her shot blocked, but stole the ball back, and took it to the basket, where she was sent to the line. She missed the first, but hit her second of two free throws with 21.7 seconds to play.
Defensively, Clemson forced a USF travel with 9.8 seconds to play to give the Tigers the ball back. Clemson put the ball in Lindsay’s hands, and the Tiger junior was fouled immediately with 8.3 seconds to play. Lindsay buried the first, but missed the second. The Bulls came down, but Dunn blocked a three-point attempt and was fouled on the rebound with 0.7 seconds to play. Dunn went to the line and hit both, setting the final margin.
Head Coach Audra Smith Quotes:
"I don’t know where to start! I tell these kids day in and day out: All it takes is effort, effort, effort. It’s anybodys on any given night, and you have to believe that! But, you have to prepare. I wasn’t pleased with shootaround this morning. Sometimes you have to give them tough love, and I love the way they responded. They didn’t back down, they didn’t hang their heads, and they came out and fought. If we can come into this type of environment, against this quality opponent, without two of our leading scorers, then we should be able to go back home and do some damage."
On taking away some momentum away from the win:
“I just told our girls: don’t let this be a one-hit wonder. We have to use this as a catapult to the rest of the season, and for this team. It’s a huge win for this team, and a huge win for this program.”
On the Clemson game plan:
“We ran about 12 or 13 quick-hitters, and our players did a phenomenal job executing. We knew we could not sustain a running game against them, just because of numbers. We knew we couldn’t take quick shots, so our whole deal was, we’re going to work the clock, run quick-hitters, and attack the basket every single time, and that’s what we did.”
On some of the individual efforts:
"Charmaine Tay was phenomenal tonight, almost unstoppable. You look at her moves, and she kind of lulls you to sleep a little bit, and then gets to the basket and is able to score. She’s got to continue to that for us. The same goes for Chancie. I’ve got to continue to groom them to be scorers, because that can help take pressure off some of our other players."
- Kelly Gramlich had a season-high 14 points in the first half, behind a season-best four three-pointers, including one just before the halftime buzzer. Gramlich has 71 career three-pointers made in 63 games, the 9th-highest average in school history (1.13 per game)
- Gramlich finished with a season-high 14 points before fouling out with 4:05 to play in the contest
- Charmaine Tay, who was coming off a career-high 11 points against South Carolina, tallied 12 in the first half against USF on 5-8 shooting; She also tied a season-high with 6 boards in the first half
- Tay finished with career-highs in points (21), rebounds (12), field goals made (9), and field goals attempted (17)
- Sade Chatman finished with 9 points. Her previous best in four career games was six points. She also established highs in made field goals (4)
- Chelsea Lindsay played the full 40 minutes. She entered the game 4th in the ACC in minutes per game
- Clemson had just 3 turnovers in the first half and finished with 12 in the game; The Tigers have just 23 total turnovers the last two games
- USF entered the game averaging 82.6 points per game, and were held to just 63
- Clemson shot .551 from the floor - the Bulls were allowing opponents to shoot .301 on the season entering today;
- Clemson shot above .500 in both halves (15-27, .556 in 1st half; 12-22, .545 in 2nd half)