Lady Tigers beat South Carolina

It took two overtimes but Clemson defeated South Carolina 94-92 in double overtime Thursday.

Clemson women's basketball used 21 points from junior Sthefany Thomas and and 20 from sophomore Shaniqua Pauldo,to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks, 94-92, in double overtimein Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers (2-1)won their second straight over the Gamecocks (1-1) in just the sixth double overtime game in school history and the fourth overtime game against South Carolina.

"I came into this game telling the girls they needed to play a hard 40 minutes," said head coach Cristy McKinney. "I didn't realize it would turn into a 50 minute game, but the girls rose to the challenge and played hard."

With the Tigers up one, April Parker fouled Valeria Nainima with 7.6 seconds remaining. Nainima hit the first of two free throws, but the second rimmed out to Kirstyn Wright. After a bit of a scrum, Wright found Pauldo, who raced down court, launching a three-point attempt with three seconds on the clock. However, Pauldo was hit by Kesley Bone while she was in the act of shooting, second her to the line in a 92-92 game. Pauldo missed the first, but drained the second.

"Pauldo did an excellent job on defense," said head coach Cristy McKinney. "She battled hard against Kelsey Bone (#5). Pauldo made a big play at the end of the game. She made two key free throws to put us up. She's been working on her free throws and it showed in this game with her making 8 of 12 from the line."

The third shot hit front rim, but was corralled by Lele Hardy, earning her a double-double. Hardy was fouled and sent to the line where she made the first, giving Clemson a 94-92 edge with 0.3 seconds on the clock. Hardy missed the second but grabbed her won rebound to seal the win for Clemson.

The game featured 17 ties and 13 lead changes, as the teams slugged it out for most of the night. Freshman Kelsey Bone had 32 points and 14 rebounds to lead South Carolina, who have now played into overtime in each of their two games this season.

Thomas lead the Tigers with a career-high-tying 21 points, shooting 8-14 from the field, including 3-6 from three-point range. Pauldo finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds, including two free throws with 2.3 seconds left to put the Tigers ahead 94-92. Senior Lele Hardy had her third straight double-double, finishing with 17 points and 11 rebounds, including two straight offensive boards off of missed free throws with less that three seconds remaining in double overtime.

Freshman Keyrra Gillespie played an astounding 49 minutes at point guard, and flirted with a triple-double as she registered 10 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and four steals. The Statesville, NC native ahs committed only 11 turnovers in 111 minutes at point guard, while notching 22 assists.

"We ask a lot of Gillespie and she always comes through and makes big plays when we need her," said McKinney. "She is a talented player and I'm looking forward to seeing more big things from her as the season progresses."

The Gamecocks made a valiant effort just to force double overtime. A beautiful spin-move-turned-floater from the free throw line by Gillespie gave Clemson a six point advantage with 1:24 left in overtime. However, Bone scored a basket and drew a foul. She missed the free throw, and after a short offensive set, the La'Keisha Sutton found Nainima for a three-pointer, cutting the deficit to one point. After a Pauldo free throw, a Bone layup with 3.7 seconds remaining tied the game and sent it into double overtime.

The end of the second half was equally tense, with the Gamecocks holding a four-point advantage with 2:37 remaining in the ball game. A Gillespie layup cut it to two, and Gillespie again scored an and-one to tie the score. The Tigers took a one-point lead as Hardy grabbed the rebound of Gillespie's miss and was fouled, making one free throw. Carolina responded with a Sutton jumper, giving them a two-point edge with under 20 seconds remaining. However, Hardy drove to the basket and hit an off-balance layup with under five seconds remaining to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

The Tigers will play next at Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 7:00 pm, before heading to Storrs, CT for the WBCA Classic. The Tigers will play Hofstra, Richmond, and UConn in the three-day tournament.

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