BLACKSBURG, Va. – Sophomore Shanel Harrison tallied a career-high 20 points and the Virginia Tech women’s basketball squad received some clutch play from its seniors on senior night to hold off Clemson, 70-69, Thursday night in Cassell Coliseum.
Tech (15-13, 4-9 ACC) honored seniors Lindsay Biggs, Utahya Drye and Lakeisha Logan before the game, and Biggs and Drye scored the final 10 points for the Hokies down the stretch as a tenacious Clemson (12-17, 3-10) squad rallied from an 18-point deficit early in the second half. The Hokies shot 54.9 percent, while the Tigers shot at a 42.6 percent clip in the game, but Tech committed 23 turnovers in the matchup, 13 in the second half to let Clemson back in it.
Both teams started the game out cold, combining for 3-14 shooting and 14 points through the first seven minutes when the Hokies picked up the scoring. Up 12-9, Tech embarked on an 11-1 run to open up to a 20-10 advantage. Clemson would cut the lead to five at 23-18, but would get no closer in the opening period, as the Hokies ended the half on an 8-1 spurt, including a Harrison runner off the glass in the closing seconds of the period. The Washington, D.C., native scored 11 of her 13 first-half points in the final 10:09 of the period to help the Hokies to a 37-24 lead heading into the locker room.
The Hokies shot 57.1 percent in the first half and held the Tigers to only 7-26 shooting, while out-rebounding Clemson 22-10.
Harrison continued to pour it on in the second half, scoring five quick points out of the break, and the Hokies extended their lead to as much as 18, but began to turn the ball over allowing Clemson to cut into the cushion. Utilizing 13 second-half turnovers from the Hokies, Clemson went on a 34-16 run over 14 minutes of action to get back in the game.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Clemson tied the game at 58 apiece with 4:45 in the game. The Hokies threw the ball away in the backcourt in the following possession and Clemson made a driving layup to take its first lead of the game. Facing their first deficit of the night, the seniors stepped up for the Hokies, scoring the final 10 points for Tech.
Senior Lindsay Biggs answered with a bucket of her own to even the game back up and from there the two squads tied again at 62-62 and 64-64. After the Hokies made it a two-possession game at 68-64 behind four points from senior Utahya Drye, Clemson answered with a layup to close within two. Biggs was then fouled crossing half court and made both free throws, but the Tigers drilled a wild three-pointer on the other end to get close the gap to one, 70-69.
Following two misses from junior Nikki Davis at the free throw line, junior Brittany Gordon tied up Clemson guard Keyrra Gillespie as she raced across midcourt with 0.2 seconds left, all but squashing the Tigers chances, though they owned the possession arrow. Gillespie lobbed the ball toward the hoop off the inbounds, but Harrison came up huge again, intercepting the pass and sealing the matchup for the Hokies, 70-69.
Harrison totaled 20 points on 8-11 shooting to pace Tech, while Drye and Biggs added 13 and 10, respectively. Clemson’s Lele Hardy led all scorers with 28 points, 22 in the second half, on 11-20 shooting. Hardy’s 28 points were the most allowed by the Hokies to one player this season.
The Hokies close out the regular season with a matchup against in-state rival Virginia in Charlottesville on Feb. 28. Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's basketball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WBBall).