CLEMSON -- Among Jim Davis’ little quirks is one common to many coaches around the country. When he gets mad, the sport coat comes off.
So when Davis emerged from the locker room following halftime of Clemson's 73-63 victory over Wofford Thursday night - sans jacket - those in the Littlejohn Coliseum stands had a pretty good idea of what took place during the break.
“I played upon their pride,” Davis said with just a hint of a smile. “In all honesty Wofford ran us out of our man-to-man defense, which we take so much pride in. I was simply challenging them to take a little pride in their defensive effort. Our defense has been good to this point, but give Wofford credit. They went by us time and time and time again.”
Asked if his halftime talk was as low key as his postgame press conference, Davis afforded himself a chuckle.
“Probably not,” he said.
“He told us to get our heads out of the clouds and our feet back on the ground,” said senior center Erin Batth. “Who cares if we beat the No. 9 team (Auburn) and No. 3 team (Duke)...he told us to get our heads out of our butts, basically, and get back to playing basketball.”
The Lady Tigers evidently took Davis’ words to heart.
Clemson, ranked No. 20 in the country, opened the second half with a 16-4 run to jump ahead 53-43. Sophomore Chrissy Floyd scored eight of her game-high 20 points during the stretch.
Wofford (4-5) made a final run at Clemson and actually came back to take a 58-57 lead with 8:19 left. But the Lady Tigers responded again with a 16-5 spurt to close the game, securing their ninth win of the season (9-2).
“I thought our match-zone was the difference-maker,” Davis said. “Our on-the-ball defense has been so good for most of the year, but Wofford ran us right out of it in the first half and forced us into the zone. They exposed a weakness, obviously. You can bet this tape will be floating all around the ACC.”
Clemson’s defense was able to force 26 turnovers, 15 of which came in the second half and helped build toward the final margin.
But the Lady Tigers allowed Wofford to shoot 52 percent (25-of-48) from the field - just the second opponent to break the 50 percent barrier through 11 games - and again were outrebounded, albeit by the slimmest of margins (37-36).
Wofford showed remarkable resiliency in the first half, withstanding an early Clemson flurry and methodically picking apart the Lady Tigers’ pressure defense.
After falling behind 8-2, the Lady Terriers regrouped and outplayed CU for the rest of the half. Clemson’s attempts to trap the ball at halfcourt were thwarted by good decision-making on the part of the Wofford guards, who consistently caught the Lady Tigers out of position with deft passes to the weak side for easy baskets.
The Lady Terriers first lead came with 3:12 left in the half, when Natalie Walsh's 3-pointer from the right wing gave her team a 33-30 advantage. The margin would eventually spread to six, 37-31, before Clemson scored the final six points of the half to force a 37-37 tie at the break.