Jan. 7, 2007
Clemson, S.C. – Chioma Nnamaka and Stephanie Higgs combine for 45 points to lift the Yellow Jackets (10-5) to their first Atlantic Coast Conference road win in almost two years, defeating Clemson (9-8) 63-75 in Littlejohn Coliseum Sunday.
Tech never led in the first half, though they kept it close, but a three pointer by Higgs with 2:54 left in the first gave the Jackets the momentum they needed to come out firing in the second half.
Nnamaka opened second half scoring when she nailed back-to-back threes giving the Jackets a 32-28 advantage. The Uppsala, Sweden native, who leads the ACC in three-point field goals with 44, finished with 21 points Sunday, nine of which came from behind the arc.
Just after Nnamka’s quick six, Higgs stole the ball and drove down the court for a tough lay up and foul in transition. Higgs sunk her free throw, along with every other attempt from the line Sunday going 11-for-11, and gave the Jackets a four-point lead five minutes into the second half. Higgs fought to the basket for her third three-point play of the game moments later, putting Tech up seven, which was their largest lead of the game thus far. Higgs finished with a team best 24 points and added eight rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Tech saw their steady four-point lead slip away with 1:44 left in the game when Clemson’s Lele Hardy was made a jumper and was fouled by Nnamaka. Hardy hit her free throw and the Tigers pulled within two. Moments later, Nnamaka answered with a high-arcing three pointer right in front of the Yellow Jacket bench to go up 59-54.
“Chioma stepped up for us today the way a junior should,” said head coach MaChelle Joseph. “Her back-to-back threes gave us the momentum we needed and her last three pointer was huge and sealed this game for us.”
Tech out rebounded Clemson, 41-to-33, even though the squad’s leading rebounder, Janie Mitchell who averages 6.7 RPG, was sidelined with a knee injury. Mitchell suffered a Medial Collateral Ligament sprain in her left knee in the Jan. 4 win over Winston-Salem State and, will be out two to four weeks.
“To go on the road and win in the ACC without our leading rebounder and one of our leading scorers says something about his team,” said Joseph. “This win will do a lot to boost the confidence of this team. I am really excited for our kids.”
Tech’s win over Clemson Sunday was their first on the road over an ACC opponent since a Feb. 6, 2005 win at Wake Forest. The Jackets improve to 15-and-41 all-time vs. the Tigers.
The Jackets, who went 2-and 12 in conference play last season, are 1-and-1 in the ACC. They return to action on Wednesday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Durham, N.C. to face No. 3 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The contest will be Tech’s second meeting with a top-five team in eight days after losing by 12 to No. 2 North Carolina on Jan. 2. Duke leads the all-time series with Tech 48-to-7 not giving up a win to the Jackets since 1994. In the 26-year history of the series, Tech has only one win at Duke, a 97-94 overtime victory on Jan. 28, 1989.
Webcast of Wednesday’s game between Duke and Georgia Tech will be available on ACCSelect.com.