Starting in style
No. 2 seed Clemson dominates Florida A&M 76-45
Posted: Friday March 12, 1999 10:43 PM
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -- For Florida A&M, No. 10 Clemson proved more than it could have expected. And that might be bad news for the rest of the NCAA tournament field.
Behind Natasha Anderson's 24 points and a stifling defense, the second-seeded Lady Tigers (25-5) rolled to their most lopsided NCAA victory, 76-45, in the Mideast Region Friday night.
"When I came out they, they jumped all over me," said Florida A&M's Teresa Jenkins, a 6-foot-6 senior who was the nation's top shot-blocker this year. "I couldn't believe it."
Anderson scored 15 of Clemson's first 20 points and Clemson, the second seed, won its eighth straight game.
"Coach [Jim] Davis talked about how he needed a rebounder and I thought I would go out and attack the boards," Anderson said. 'Sometimes if you keep crashing the boards, some teams don't block out and you can get some offensive follows."
Anderson and Clemson got almost every rebound in opening up a 20-6 lead that grew to 39-13 by halftime and took off in the second half.
Anderson finished with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting.
Florida A&M (18-12), the 15th seed, had won 10 of 12 games, including the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament title. But the Rattlerettes found themselves in a different league against the Lady Tigers.
The victory was the most lopsided in Clemson's 22-game NCAA history.
Clemson meets seventh-seeded Illinois, a 69-67 winner over Louisville, on Sunday for a spot in the regional semifinals next week at Cincinnati.
It likely won't be this easy.
Anderson, a 6-foot-2 senior, simply outrebounded and outstretched the Rattlerettes as Clemson built a 20-6 lead with 11:21 to go.
Itoro Umoh, Andrea Gaines, Nikki Blassingame and Amy Geren all followed with baskets and the lead grew to 32-8.
"Sometimes, the ball just keeps coming to you and it makes it easy to hit some shots," Anderson said.
While Clemson thrived, Florida A&M struggled to make shots. It started 3 of 17 from the field with 12 turnovers and went almost 12 minutes between baskets during one stretch.
Florida A&M's horrible half -- it was only 5 of 26 from the field and didn't hit double figures until Tomekia Peterson's jumper with 1:59 remaining -- tied Oklahoma for the second fewest points scored in a tournament game.
The Sooners were held to 13 points in the second half in a loss to Louisiana Tech four years ago.
Jenkins led Florida A&M with 15 points. Part of the problem, Florida A&M coach Claudette Farmer said, was an early injury to point guard Akita Heatly, who took an elbow in the face and sat the final 38 minutes with ice on her cheek.
"That disrupts your rhythm right away," Farmer said.
The game turned silly after halftime, with Clemson coach Jim Davis shuttling players every few possessions and every lineup seemingly having success.
Anderson's layup made it 53-20, and her foul shot three minutes later took it to 58-22 with 11:42 to go.
A breakaway basket by Andrea Gaines with 5:28 left made it 68-27, Clemson's largest lead.
Umoh said it was just crucial for her team to start off fast and stay in front. "The margin isn't a big deal," she said.
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