COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite overcoming a 21-point deficit and making a run in the third quarter, the Clemson Tigers (2-1) came up short against in-state rival South Carolina (2-0) in the Palmetto Series on Thursday. The Tigers used a 10-2 run out of halftime to spark a second-half battle, but the Gamecocks pulled away in the waning minutes to a 69-57 victory.
“I’m really proud of that third quarter, in particular,” said head coach Amanda Butler. “We stuck to our guns and kept chipping away. It felt like it was closer than 12 points overall, but it was a great effort.”
A hard-fought game that featured intense on-ball defense, the contest featured a grand total of 55 turnovers. The in-state duel was not decided until the Gamecocks sank several pivotal free throws down the stretch to garner breathing room.
Outscoring the Gamecocks 46-28 in the paint, the Tigers had three scorers reach double figures as part of a valiant offensive effort that included a significant second-half turnaround.
Senior Danielle Edwards put together a well-balanced performance on the evening, scoring 10 points to go along with her seven rebounds and three assists. Fellow guard Simone Westbrook led the offensive charge for the Tigers with a team-high 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Down low, junior Kobi Thornton tallied 11 points and four boards.
Clemson took an early 6-4 lead before a stretch of 3:54 ran off the clock without a point being scored. After falling behind 8-4, the Gamecocks came alive from the field and closed out the first quarter on a 14-4 run.
The Tigers used a quick run to close out the half and pick up some momentum heading into the intermission. Clemson guard Destiny Thomas hit a putback tip-in at the buzzer to make the score 41-25 at halftime.
Clemson proceeded to come out firing to open up the third quarter, scoring several layups and wreaking havoc inside, making it a three-point ball game late in the frame.
The Tigers remained aggressive in the fourth, fighting for loose balls and getting to the free-throw line, but were unable to pull off the road victory at Colonial Life Arena. Outscoring Clemson 20-14 in the final quarter, South Carolina won 69-57 for their ninth straight victory in the rivalry series.
Guard Te’a Cooper led all scorers with 15 points for a Gamecock team that was limited to 36 percent shooting from the field.
Clemson will remain on the road as they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide (1-1) at Coleman Coliseum on Monday, Nov. 19. The non-conference matchup is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m.
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· Graduate transfer Simone Westbrook notched five steals against the Gamecocks, marking the third consecutive game that a Tiger has recorded five or more steals
· Junior Chyna Cotton pulled in a career-best seven rebounds
· Senior Danielle Edwards tallied three steals in the contest, moving into eighth in Clemson program history for career steals (217)