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Women’s basketball struggling as team dives into ACC play

Provided by photo pool

Clemson guard Gabby Elliot (10) defends the perimeter in the 2021 ACC women’s basketball tournament. (Walt Unks/Winston-Salem Journal/Pool)

15 games into the 2021-2022 season, the Clemson’s women’s basketball hold an overall record of 6-9 and are 0-4 in ACC conference play.

The Tigers started the season strong with a 6-4 record, defeating Wofford and Mount St. Mary’s by a combined 59 points.

They also displayed the ability to win close games, like the team’s sixpoint win over Presbyterian College and a narrow three-point victory over Penn State.

While Clemson has shown the capability of finding ways to win games, the Tigers have also lost games in blowout fashion. A 31-point loss to South Carolina, 40-point loss to Syracuse, and a 27-point loss to NC State have typified Clemson’s struggles this year.

Overall, the reoccuring challenges for the team have been scoring the ball and its defensive presence.

So far this season, the Tigers are averaging 62.6 points per game, which is 217th in the NCAA, comparable to the 2020-21 campaign where they averaged 70.7 ppg, which was seventh in the conference.

On the defensive side of the ball, Clemson is giving up 67.1 points per game, ranking 258th in the NCAA.

Clemson has also struggled shooting the ball. The Tigers are shooting 37.8% on field goal attempts, putting them last in the ACC and are shooting 24.6% from three-point range, also last in the ACC.

Part of Clemson’s struggles can be attributed to regression from key players. Sophomore guard Gabby Elliott was the team’s second leading scorer a season ago with 13.4 ppg on 45% from the field and 34% from three. She also added 4.9 rebounds a game.

This season, Elliott is only averaging 9.4 ppg with 36% on field goal attempts and 28% on threes, along with 2.8 rebounds a game.

Elliott is not the only player that has seen her numbers decline. The team’s current leading scorer is senior guard Delicia Washington, who is averaging 12.8 points per game.Last season, Washington led the team with 15.9 points per game.

That difference is not a major decline, but Washington was a preseason All-ACC team recipient and was expected to lead this year’s unit to more success.

Part of Clemson’s struggles also fall on the shoulders of head coach Amanda Butler. Butler is in her fourth season at Clemson after spending 10 years as head coach of the Florida Gators women’s team.

Butler has coached at the powerfive level long enough and has achieved much more success than losing games by 40 points.

In Butler’s first year with Clemson in 2018-2019, she did an incredible job of coaching her team to 20 wins and a second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament. Butler was also awarded ACC coach of the year honors that season.

That is the exact type of leadership and preparation that Clemson needs while playing in a difficult ACC conference.

On that note, Clemson’s schedule is another point to consider. The Tigers have already played four ranked opponents, including No. 1 South Carolina and No. 5 NC State.

The schedule does not get much easier as Clemson only has ACC games left on its schedule. The team is set to play five more games against currentlyranked opponents, including No. 3 Louisville and No. 16 Georgia Tech.

Even with all the struggles this season, Clemson only sits three games under .500 and ACC-play has just begun, leaving the Tigers plenty of opportunities to bounce back.

As a whole, Clemson needs to perform better. Their star players need to play at a higher level to and their coaches need to prepare them for this second-half stretch.

It will be challenging, but the team has what it takes to come together and turn the season around.

Statistics were calculated through Clemson’s first 14 games of the season. 

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