ANDERSON - Clemson gamely fought an uphill battle against No. 11 Penn State Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Lady Tigers never quite reached the peak.
The Lady Lions squandered nearly all of an 18-point second half lead before regaining their composure and pulling away down the stretch for an 80-66 victory at the Civic Center of Anderson.
The defeat snapped Clemson's three-game winning streak, while Penn State now has won six in a row.
"The last six minutes of the first half, and really the entire second half, I thought we were fine defensively," said Clemson head coach Jim Davis. "I don't know if I built Penn State up to be invincible or not, but for some reason we didn't come out and play with much aggressiveness to start the game. If we play Clemson Lady Tiger basketball, the way we're supposed to play it from beginning to end, we can play with Penn State."
Penn State (6-1), who led by as many as 15 at one juncture in the first half, went ahead 51-33 on a 3-pointer by Jessica Brungo (23 points) with 17:16 left in game.
But instead of wilting, Clemson (3-2) came storming back behind a frenetic, man-to-man trapping defense. The Lady Tigers shaved 14 points off the margin in the next 13 minutes, with senior guard Chrissy Floyd scoring 11 of her team-high 24 points during that span.
Floyd's 3-pointer with 4:28 remaining pulled Clemson within 67-63, but that would be the end of the comeback. Penn State hit its final 12 free throw attempts, including 10 straight in the final 2:14, to pull away down the stretch.
The Lady Lions finished the night 24-of-28 from the charity stripe.
"We relied too much on Chrissy Floyd," Davis said. "We've got other kids who can make things happen, and we have to get them involved in the game.
"But we also have kids who are very good on this (offensive) end of the floor, and are lacking on this (defensive) end. They want to be good defensive players, but right now we don't have that mindset. We've got to get that fixed."
Kelly Mazzante led Penn State with 28 points. Jess Strom added 13.
Floyd was the only Clemson player to reach double figures.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.