STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Tigers are moving on! Clemson (20-12, 9-7) showed out in its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2002 with a 79-66 victory over the eighth-seeded South Dakota Coyotes (28-6, 14-2). After trailing by four at halftime in the first-round competition at Humphrey Coliseum, the Tigers pulled off an impressive second-half swing to survive and advance.
A complete performance, the Tigers come-from-behind win saw them shoot an efficient 47 percent from the floor, while forcing 17 turnovers on the defensive side of the ball. Clemson tabbed 22 points off turnovers and outscored South Dakota 15-2 in the fast break, making the Coyotes pay in transition throughout the second half. The Tigers thrived from deep, sinking nine 3-pointers, including a 6-of-11 showing from beyond the arc in the second half.
Not shying away from the spotlight, Clemson seniors Danielle Edwards and Simone Westbrook put on veteran performances to lead the Tigers to victory. Westbrook led all scorers with 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting and also registered four steals. Edwards matched her career-high with five 3-pointers on the evening and hauled in eight rebounds. Fellow senior guard Aliyah Collier made her mark with 16 points via a 6-for-16 shooting effort.
Clemson and South Dakota engaged in an even-matched first half with both teams shooting over 40 percent from the field. The Coyotes led 19-15 through one quarter of play and maintained the 4-point edge to take a 35-31 advantage into halftime. South Dakota stretched its lead to eight points at the 6:09 mark in the third but the Tigers responded with an 11-1 run to outscore the Coyotes 20-13 in the third frame.
In the final 10 minutes, Clemson utilized a commanding 15-0 run that featured a trio of Edwards’ 3-pointers to pull away from South Dakota. Leading 73-58 with 2:52 left to play, the Tigers maintained a sizable advantage the rest of the way en route to the 79-66 triumph, which served as Clemson’s first NCAA Tournament win since 2001.
The Tigers will remain at Humphrey Coliseum for the round of 32, taking on the winner of the matchup between top-seeded Mississippi State and No. 16 Southern. The second-round contest will take place on Sunday, Mar. 24, and will air on the ESPN2.