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Clemson women’s basketball needs a miracle in the ACC Tournament

In a season filled with tinges of promise but hindered by untimely injuries, the Clemson women’s basketball team (14-15, 3-13) needs a miracle in the upcoming ACC Tournament in order to land a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers essentially must win the entire tournament in order to earn a March Madness berth. After falling at Georgia Tech on Thursday night, Clemson capped off a regular season that never quite came to fruition for a program on the rise.

After starting the season 8-0, the Tigers experienced some dishevelment at the beginning of conference play: leading scorer Nelly Perry missed time due to a shoulder ailment and phenomenal rebounder Kobi Thornton had to sit out due to a concussion.

Struggling to develop any type of rhythm early on in ACC play, the Tigers proceeded to be fairly unpredictable in January and February, with their schedule featuring blowout losses, surprising wins and an up-and-down scoring display by various contributors. Sophomore guard Aliyah Collier came into her own and Perry returned to lead the Tigers once again. However, the many tough opponents in the best conference in the nation proved to be too much for the Clemson bunch; the team, looking to return to winning form for the first time in quite some time, found itself overwhelmed as the losses gradually piled up.

Next season could be a different story for the Tigers, as they are incredibly young and do not currently sport a single senior on the roster. With a stacked roster boasting plenty of size and scoring potential, 2017-18 could bring with it an all-out rejuvenation of a once great Clemson program. The Tigers still have an opportunity to make some noise this year, though, with recent big wins over North Carolina and Pitt proving that they are capable of pulling out all the stops en route to netting a big victory.

The Tigers are slated to play in the opening round as one of the tournament’s lower seeds, and, with the event taking place in Conway, South Carolina, Clemson will have a home-state advantage. Clemson head coach Audra Smith has done an excellent job this season of using ideal lineups to create matchup problems for opponents, and her excellent scouting could bode well for a team primed to pull off a few upsets in Conway.

The ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament kicks off Wednesday, March 1 at 1 p.m. at Coastal Carolina University. Check back for updates as the tournament progresses. 

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