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Clemson to look for upset vs. No. 1 South Carolina

Thomas Gilbert
Head coach Amanda Butler and her squad will look to redeem themselves against the No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday.

The Clemson women’s basketball team has started the 2023-24 season a perfect 3-0, but the Tigers will be tested early with their toughest opponent thus far, and maybe all season, when they face off against No.1 South Carolina on Thursday in Columbia, South Carolina.

For Clemson, the team is aiming to avenge its 85-31 loss suffered at the hands of the Gamecocks last season, as well as securing the first Tigers’ win in the rivalry series since 2009.

Clemson’s success to start the seaso has come from aggressive defense and forcing turnovers along with scoring in the paint, whether it be in transition or out of a half-court set.

As a team that applies lots of pressure defensively, Dayshanette Harris’ on-ball defense and presence, resulting in 1.7 steals per game, has played a large part in Clemson averaging more than 20 forced turnovers a game and opportunities to score off the fast break.

Apart from the defensive side of the ball, Harris, a 5-foot-7 guard, has also been a playmaker on offense, often using the pick-and-roll action to help average a team-leading six assists per game.

Offensively, the Tigers are led by forward Amari Robinson, who is averaging a team-high 21.3 points per game for ninth overall in the ACC in addition to 7.3 rebounds per game.

Robinson has done most of her work down low in the paint, leading the ACC with 26 field goals made and holding second place in the conference in field-goal percentage (72.2%).

“Her basketball IQ is off the frickin’ charts, you know, just how she anticipates things,” Clemson head coach Amanda Butler said of Robinson. “It’s part of what makes her such an effective defender. You know, she just really plays like that experienced veteran who loves her teammates. So I’m really proud of what she’s done, and I still think that the best is yet to come for her.”

When the Tigers match up in Columbia on Thursday, they will be doing so against a South Carolina team that has solidified itself as one of the best teams in the country.

South Carolina (2-0) has already faced two top 15-ranked opponents early in the season and dominated them both.

The team opened the year against then-No. 10 Notre Dame in Paris, besting the Irish 100-71 and holding Notre Dame to less than 33% shooting from the field.

South Carolina then matched up with then-No. 14 Maryland, and it was more of the same for the Gamecocks.

In a 114-76 beatdown over the Terrapins, South Carolina shot 50% from three and had seven players scoring in double figures.

“They’re very dynamic offensively,” Butler said of South Carolina. “They’re doing a great job of scoring the basketball, and not that they’ve historically struggled with that, but you know, really rooted in the paint.”

While the Gamecocks have a multitude of talent on both sides of the ball, Clemson’s main focus will be trying to keep center Kamilla Cardoso in check.

The 6-foot-7 Brazil native is currently leading her team in points and rebounds, averaging 16 and 11 in those respective categories.

While Cardoso might be the biggest challenge for Clemson, the Tigers will also have to account for the likes of players such as MiLaysia Fulwiley, who averages 14.5 points and four steals per game, and Te-Hina Paopao, averaging 14 points and seven assists a game.

The rivalry game is set to take place at 7 p.m. in Colonial Life Arena in Columbia as Clemson looks to improve upon last year’s performance.

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Thomas Gilbert, Senior Photographer
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