I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
The Marines used that old Lynn Anderson song for their tough guy recruiting run back in the 1980s. Well, the Lady Hokies have hit the hard road, and the Clemson Tigers punched back hard. The Tigers flat out out ran and out shot the Hokies for the first quarter, and though it got a bit pinchy in the third and fourth, never gave up the lead after they passed up the Hokies in the first.
The Fast Start Faded in the First Quarter
It all started out great. The Hokies burst out of the gate to a big 8-point lead 10-2 with Georgia Amoore hitting a three pointer with 7:10 on the clock. The Hokies didn’t score another point until Liz Kitley hit two free throws to put Tech up by a point (12-11) but the ping-pong exchange runs started occurring and Clemson just kept up the heavy pressure on the exchanges. Then disaster struck and Tech would only score 4 more points in the quarter meanwhile Clemson went on a massive scoring tear along with a really frustrating offensive collapse by the Hokies.
It wasn’t just missed shots, though there were lots of those, it was the turnovers and the sure points on the other side with Tech looking like they couldn’t put up anything in the way of a defense that pretty much slammed the door in the Hokies’ faces for the game. Clemson stormed off to a 10-point lead as the buzzer sounded for the end of the 1st, and despite holding Clemson to a 2-point differential in the 2nd ended up going into the halftime break trying to figure out how to stage a comeback instead of protecting a lead like they are used to doing.
The Hokies won the second half, 33 to 26 but that just wasn’t enough. They managed to close the gap to a single point in the 4th quarter, but Clemson just managed to shove them away and keep the Hokies from passing. Eventually the end game of timeouts and minor fouls just ran them out of time and garnered no advantageous exchanges.
Interesting Game Stats
Cayla King led the scoring with 15 points, all of which came from three-point range. Unfortunately, she missed both of her free throws which is seriously unusual for her. King managed two steals and 6 rebounds but also lost the ball twice. Georgia Amoore and Liz Kitley both followed with 14 points each, and that was it for double figures.
Notes of concern that Kenny Brooks needs to address both from a coaching perspective and some court work are the turnover problems, and the subpar free throw shooting this evening. The Hokies lost the ball a dismal 17 times this evening, and they were only 12-20 from the charity stripe. That 8 points was the difference in the game. Fixing the turnover problem is going to be critical for next week. The final concern is that Brooks seems to have purposely shortened his bench. He only played six players in the game - Clara Ford was put in for a grand total of a minute, so we aren’t even counting her.
This is another critical ACC game where Brooks has shortened his bench to the point where he was not actually subbing in anybody. In the meantime, Clemson was swapping out players like hockey lines and spreading around the work. They ran the ball hard, pressed hard, and risked foul trouble because they used their entire bench. They played 10 players 8 of whom got significant minutes on the court. They had a total of 21 personal fouls for the game, and two players were in foul trouble but no one fould out. By the end of the game, Amoore, Soule, and King each had four, but there were no substitutes to stretch out their time and keep up the defensive and offensive pressure enough to push past Clemson.
Tech better take notice that Notre Dame did much the same thing. They pressed hard, risked fouls, and ran breaks to win exchanges. Clemson evidently watched the film. North Carolina is likely to do the same thing on Sunday. Brooks seems to have lost a bit of coaching magic since the loss of Owusu and needs to make some adjustments in his strategy, or this season will turn sour, fast.