The Clemson Women’s Basketball team played No. 5 ranked Notre Dame on Thursday night in Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers hung well with the Fighting Irish until halftime, but Notre Dame pulled away in the second half to win 101-63. Below are some strengths and weaknesses from the game.
Paws Up: First Half
After an early 18-2 run for Notre Dame, the Tigers clawed back into the game to make the score 32-18 at the end of the first quarter. At the start of the second quarter, Clemson put the defensive pressure on and forced a few turnovers to go on a 9-0 run to bring the game within seven points. That was as close as the Tigers would get all night long as they went into the half down by 12.
Paws Down: Rebounding
Clemson and their coaches had to know that rebounding could be an issue coming into the game. Notre Dame boasts three plays 6’4” or taller and Clemson only has one player, and for much of the first half, it showed. At one point during the first half, Notre Dame had 22 rebounds, half of them being offensive rebounds. The Tigers could not seem to keep the Irish boxed out and eventually Clemson corrected this, but it might have been too late. The Fighting Irish scored 58 points in the paint while Clemson only scored 30. Notre Dame had a superior edge in height and took advantage.
Paws Up: Bench Production
Clemson came into the game averaging 20 points per game in bench production, mostly led by Senior Aliyah Collier. Collier scored 22 points in the losing effort, and her counterparts added 10 points amongst them. The Clemson bench also added 19 of the total 33 rebounds for the team. The Tiger bench outscored the Notre Dame bench 32-9. Collier gives Clemson huge depth by being the “sixth woman” for the team and will help the team be dangerous in the remaining games and the ACC tournament.
Paws Down: Free throws / Referees / Fouls
Losses by 38 points cannot be blamed on the referees, but some calls can make you wonder what could have been. In the first half, Notre Dame shot 19 free throws compared to zero shot for Clemson. The Tigers did not shoot a free throw until halfway into the third quarter. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that Clemson was overall shorter than the Irish and had to foul because of offensive rebounds, but Tiger fans were upset with the “zebras” for much of the first half. The referees were a little whistle happy for the Irish and a little whistle shy for the Tigers.
The Tigers did go 1-5 from the line, which did not help the cause. Despite the referees, Clemson was in foul trouble all game, while Notre Dame needed not to worry about that. Clemson had three players with three fouls before the first half was over, and the Irish had a singular player with two fouls. Clemson shot themselves in the foot many times in the foul / free throw category.
Paws Up: Fast Breaks and Steals
Clemson had 12 fast break points compared to 14 for Notre Dame. Many of the Clemson fast break points were in the first half, while Notre Dame’s mostly came in the second half. Clemson forced ten steals, as well. The Tigers feed off of turnovers and fast break points. When they were playing well in the second quarter, the Tigers were playing tough defense, forcing turnovers and getting fast break buckets. This will be the key for the Tigers to win more games down the stretch.
Paws Down: Turnovers
Although the Tigers forced turnovers, they turned the ball over too much. Clemson had 28 turnovers. Part of this goes back to Notre Dame being so much taller than Clemson, but Clemson was also just lazy with the basketball. It is hard to win games against anyone with 28 turnovers, let alone top ten competition.