Women's Hoops: Tigers shift gears on defense to beat Pittsburgh

Nikki Dixon scored 29, as Audra Smith claimed her first ACC victory; Tigers at UNC on Thursday

Women's Basketball - Nyilah Jamison-Myers

Photo by Mark Crammer

Women's Basketball - Nyilah Jamison-Myers

Against a Pittsburgh team with no one taller than 6-0, Clemson women's basketball coach Audra Smith sent a small, quick lineup on the floor for the Tigers' ACC home game on Sunday.

Expecting to rattle the Panthers, instead Pitt handled Clemson's pressure.

So Smith exercised the power of versatility and the Tigers found another way to get the defensive job done en route to a 68-58 victory – Smith's first over an ACC opponent as Clemson's head coach.

“We tried to jump out and press and we thought that would rattle them,” Smith said. “I was surprised we were able to rattle Georgia Tech and not Pitt. We tried to go court-to-court and that didn't work, so then we settled down and mixed it up with some zone and some man.”

The Tigers also took advantage of their size advantage inside with an eight-point, seven-rebound performance by Nyilah Jamison-Myers.

“That's important for us,” Smith said. “If we can have an inside presence to put up 8-10 points every night and grab some boards, then that's going to help us win games.”

The star of the show on Sunday was junior guard Nikki Dixon, who had a career-best game with 29 points and 11 rebounds.

“Nikki continues to do the things we ask her to do. Which is what? Attack the basket,” Smith said. “When she does that we are really hard to stop."

Overall, it was a solid, building-block performance for Tigers, now 9-8 overall and 1-2 in the ACC.

“I'm really proud of the ways the kids played,” Smith said. “I wish we could have taken better care of the basketball, and I wish we would have shot better from the free throw line. But I like the stat line. Everyone contributed.”

The Tigers will be back in action on Thursday when they take on nationally-ranked North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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