Clemson defeats Techsters in defensive battle

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RUSTON – Clemson entered Monday night’s game against Louisiana Tech ranked in the top five in the country in defensive field goal percentage and points allowed per game.

The Tigers (7-2) left Ruston improving on those numbers as Clemson stymied the Lady Techsters (4-4) 55-47 before 2,129 fans at the Thomas Assembly Center.

Tech fell for the third straight game and saw its modest seven-game home winning streak snapped, shooting only 30 percent from the field and committing 25 turnovers in the loss.

“I thought we gave them way too many opportunities,” said Brooke Stoehr. “When you have more turnovers then field goals, then you aren’t going to win. Offensively, I have to do a better job coaching. It’s frustrating because we are giving teams 6 to 10 easy points off turnovers in the backcourt. Credit Clemson. I thought their length and athleticism bothered us and we just didn’t handle it very well.”

Despite committing 12 turnovers in the first two quarters and shooting only 33 percent from the field, Louisiana Tech took a 29-25 lead into the halftime locker room. The Lady Techsters outrebounded Clemson 21-15 in the opening 20 minutes and hit 10-of-11 free throws to overcome an eight-point second quarter deficit to take the four-point advantage.

However, the third quarter started to turn the tide in favor of the Tigers. Clemson held LA Tech to only six points in the frame as the Tigers led 37-35 after the third quarter.

“I’m pretty sure we set basketball back about 15 years with our offensive performance,” said Stoehr. “We have to get better. We have to get the ball to people in areas where they can score. I thought our spacing was poor. We shot 1 of 15 from three. I thought we rebounded well. We got 17 offensive boards but only got 17 points off of those. All I know to do is come back tomorrow morning and get back to work.”

Tech’s offensive struggles continued into the fourth quarter. A jumper by Clemson post Kobi Thornton with 2:37 to play in the game pushed the Tigers advantage to 44-38 as time was running out on the Lady Techsters.

However, a layup by Alexus Malone and then a conventional three-point play by junior forward Zhanae Whitney with 1:32 to play cut the Clemson lead to 44-43. Following a timeout, the Tigers answered as guard Danielle Edwards hit a running bank shot with 1:13 to play to push the lead back out to three-points. Tech failed to score on its next possession and Clemson hit 10-of-11 free throws in the final 60 seconds to seal the win.

Malone led Tech with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Tech returns to action Thursday when the Lady Techsters travel to face Little Rock.

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