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Clemson women’s basketball primed for breakout run

Isabelle Davis, Staff
Aliyah Collier

The Clemson Tigers women’s basketball team got off to a solid start this spring, beginning the season 8-0 and finishing non-conference play with an impressive 11-2 record.
However, the Tigers have struggled as of late, going 0-6 through their first six conference matchups. Heavily affected by injuries, particularly to leading scorer Nelly Perry, the momentum garnered by the Tigers’ from their early-season success has all but dissipated in recent weeks. However, due to a gradual improvement in health and a proliferation of young stars on the roster, the Tigers could very well make a major turnaround in the near future.
After her team lost by a sizable margin to the Florida State Seminoles in a difficult road test two weekends ago, Clemson Head Coach Audra Smith acknowledged that, despite injuries to prominent players, the Tigers were nonetheless better than that performance indicated and would do everything that they could to right the ship.
“All you can do is put one foot in front of the other and move forward because the season doesn’t end here.”
With the aforementioned junior guard Perry out with a separated shoulder and promising freshman forward battling injury woes of her own, the Tigers have been forced to battle through adversity during conference play. Even prior to the start of conference play, Thornton suffered a concussion, and efficient scorer Aliyah Collier endured a knee injury, but the Tigers continued to win. From there, however, the injury toll increased for the Tigers, causing Clemson to fall behind in the ACC.
Playing in a conference as strong and deep as the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Tigers receive no scheduling favors from January on, with the difficulty and intensity of March Madness effectively coming early for them. Therefore, the margin for error is very slim, and, without the services of their top scorer, the Tigers have faltered recently, often failing to keep up with their high-scoring opponents.
One positive that has come out of the recent injury issues is that several young Tigers have been presented with more prominent roles and have flourished in them, such as freshman guard Jaia Alexander, a skilled scorer and distributor.
With over half of the conference slate still remaining, and Perry possibly gearing up for a return to the rotation, the Tigers can still establish themselves as a promising team in the vaunted ACC; their early-season play certainly shows as much.
Regardless, this season has showcased that Clemson Tigers women’s basketball is on the rise, with postseason success on the horizon. Smith and her staff have done a superb job in the recruiting department as of late, drawing in talent from far and wide. With a remarkably young lineup, it is highly impressive that Clemson began the year 8-0; but it was obvious from the beginning that the players bought into Smith’s system, which was proven by their hot start.
Due to its bevy of young talent and a coaching staff built for success, Clemson is primed to continue its ascension in the coming seasons.
This season still has promise, as the possibility of winning the ACC Tournament is substantial enough to consider the Tigers, mostly because of their multi-talented roster featuring plenty of offensive firepower. Clemson could regain its stride any game now, and, if healthy, the Tigers could experience a major rebound in the second half of conference play.
The Tigers surprised many with their great performance at the beginning of the season, and they just might reciprocate that in the coming weeks.

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