Lady Tigers mount second straight double-digit comeback victory

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CLEMSON, SC - Nikki Dixon’s game-winning three-pointer with 34.4 second to play gave Clemson the push they needed to hold on for a 64-62 win over Virginia (15-11, 7-8 ACC) in Littlejohn on Thursday night. The Lady Tigers (8-18, 4-11 ACC) won their second straight ACC home game, overcoming 11-point deficits in each contest.

Clemson trailed, 55-44, with 10:00 minutes left and 62-54 with 2:15 to play in coming back for the win. The Cavaliers entered the game on the NCAA Tournament bubble, boasting an RPI of 68th nationally.

“Virginia is a good team. I know they've been battling with some injuries, and that's been our story the whole season,” said Itoro Coleman, who got the win on her birthday. “Coming into the game, we knew that number one, we had to defend. We also knew that we had to attack their zone.”

When it mattered, Clemson did exactly that, as the Cavaliers went 1-5 with two turnovers over the final four minutes, while Clemson overcame an eight-point deficit in the last 2:15.

Dixon, who drilled three left-wing three-pointers in the second half, took a swing pass from Aisha Turner and drilled the shot to give Clemson a 63-62 lead with 34.4 second left.

"My heart just stopped,” said Dixon, who finished with nine points, a career-high seven assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two block. “I got a good look and I made it. I stayed with it and knocked it down."

Turner would later add a free throw with nine seconds left. The Lady Tigers rushed the floor as Sarah Beth Barnette’s right-corner three missed with 0.7 seconds to play.

Quinyotta Pettaway led the Lady Tigers with 15 points (6-10 FG, 3-4 FT) and seven rebounds in a team-high 36 minutes. It was the 17th time this season she has scored in double-figures. Natiece Ford also added 12 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes, her second straight game in double figures.

The Tigers scored nine points apiece in Dixon, Turner, and Kelly Gramlich, who tied a season-high with three three-pointers made. Turner, who is second among all league freshmen in assists at 3.4 per game had six to go with four offensive rebounds, and three steals. Nyilah Jamison-Myers also had eight points on 4-4 shooting in 17 minutes.

Clemson improved to 7-4 this season when shooting .400 or better, as they knocked in 25-53 (.472) from the floor, and .500 in the second half. Virginia hit 22 of their 44 attempts, but Clemson’s control of the boards prevented the Cavs from keeping possessions alive.

The first half was tight most of the way, with four ties and three lead changes. Clemson led, 20-14 before a 13-3 Virginia run gave the Cavaliers a lead they would not relinquish for more than 20 minutes, until Dixon’s shot. Trailing by just two points, Virginia’s Jazmin Pitts scored a hoop and drew the foul to give the Cavs a 32-27 lead going into halftime.

In the second half, each time it looked like Clemson might make a run, Virginia had an answer. With 6:43 left, Ford hit a shot to pull Clemson within three, before the Cavs against stretched the lead to eight moments later. Turner answered with a jumper, but Sarah Imovbioh against hit a layup with 2:43 left to give UVa the 62-54 lead. However, those would be the last points for the Cavaliers.

Dixon hit a three with 2:15 left to knock the deficit to five and two possessions later, Ford hit a layup and was fouled with 1:18 to play. Imovbioh then missed both of her free throws, got the rebound, but missed the follow. Clemson came down the other end and Gramlich launched a three which bounced out, but Dixon tracked down to keep the possession alive.

Out of a timeout, Dixon found herself alone on the left wing and drilled the shot to give Clemson the 63-62 lead. China Crosby then traveled on the other end giving the ball back to the Tigers. UVa had to foul four consecutive times to get into the bonus, sending Turner to the line. Turner calmly sank the first before missing the second. Virginia took down the rebound and pushed it down the other end.

The ball went out underneath the hoop with 0.7 seconds to play. They found Barnette, whose shot sailed long to clinch the win for the Lady Tigers.

Clemson plays the next two on the road, at Boston College on Sunday, and at Georgia Tech next Thursday.

Clemson vs. Virginia Postgame Notes
Littlejohn Coliseum - Clemson, SC
February 21, 2013

Team Notes
* The Lady Tigers overcame an 11-point deficit to get the 64-62 victory. That is the second straight game in which Clemson trailed by at least 11 points and came back to win.

* Clemson has now won back-to-back conference games for the first time since 2010 when Clemson defeated Boston College on January 29 and N.C. State on January 31. Both of those games were also at home.

* Clemson has now defeated a team from the state of Virginia for the third straight season. Clemson is also 4-0 against teams from the Commonwealth this season (2-0 vs. VT, 1-0 vs. UVA, 1-0 vs. Radford).

* The Lady Tigers tallied 19 bench points in tonight’s game. That is the most for the Tigers in a conference game this season.

* Clemson recorded 19 assists in tonight’s game. That is the most in a conference game since January 23, 2011 when the Tigers totaled 21 assists against Wake Forest.

Individual Notes
* Quinyotta Pettaway recorded 15 points giving her double-figure points for the 17th time this season. She has also scored double-figure points in 11 of 15 conference games including tonight. It is also the fourth time this season that she has scored at least 15 points.

* Pettaway scored 11 points in the first half of tonight’s. She also scored 12 points in the second half of Clemson’s last game against Virginia Tech giving her back-to-back halves with double-figure points.

* Natiece Ford recorded double-figure points for the second consecutive game with 12 points and a season-high-tying seven rebounds in tonight’s game. It is the fourth double-figure point game of her career and the first time in her career that she has recorded back-to-back double figure games.

* Nikki Dixon hit the go-ahead shot with 34.4 seconds to put Clemson up 63-62. She finished the game with nine points and recorded a career-high seven assists to go with five rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

* Aisha Turner had a career-high four offensive rebounds in tonight’s game. She also added six assists against just two turnovers; she entered the game second among ACC freshmen in assists per game.

* Kelly Gramlich recorded nine points and a season-high-tying three three-pointers.

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