Xavier holds off Clemson 77-62
Updated: Sunday March 18, 2001 5:08 PM
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Xavier turned back Clemson's lone offensive outburst with some remarkable shooting Sunday and advanced to the round of 16 for the first time with its 20th straight victory.
Reetta Piipari hit three 3-pointers during a 12-2 turnaround run and Xavier went on to win 77-62 in the second round of the Mideast Regional.
Taru Tuukkanen scored Xavier's first nine points as the Musketeers took a 13-7 lead but then committed three consecutive turnovers while Clemson (21-10) put together an 11-0 run.
Chrissy Floyd gave the Tigers the lead on a layup and a 3-pointer, and Xavier took time out to regroup.
"We've had people come at us all year and make runs," said Xavier coach Melanie Balcomb. "I just try to make sure that we stay on an even keel and that we're not getting down. I just try to make sure we're OK."
Xavier (30-2) switched to a stifling zone defense, Piipari hit three 3-pointers in less than three minutes, and the Musketeers went ahead for good.
"We had been talking about their 3's at practice," Floyd said. "We knew we had to control that, but that run hurt us going in at halftime."
By halftime, the Musketeers had built a 49-27 lead, shooting 68 percent from the field and going 12-of-13 at the line. Meanwhile, Clemson shot only 34 percent and went to the line only four times, making one free throw.
"I'm a little disappointed in our team," said Clemson coach Jim Davs. "I thought we came out ready to play and we had some intensity. They had a great game plan going inside. We're very thin in there. That's no secret."
Clemson could not shut down Xavier, inside or outside, but did force 32 turnovers.
"We usually shoot the ball well, but we don't usually turn the ball over 32 times," Balcomb said. "They played us more physically than any team we've played this year. They forced us to go too fast sometimes."
Nicole Levandusky had 19 points to lead five Xavier players in double figures. Tuukkanen had 14, Piipari and Amy Waugh 13 each, and Jennifer Phillips 12.
"They were double- and triple-teaming in the post, and that left the outside shots open," Levandusky said.
Xavier, which had a team-record 14 3-pointers in its first-round win over Louisville, was 12-of-18 outside the arc Sunday. Piipari was 3-of-3 and Waugh was 4-of-4.
Floyd scored 24 points for Clemson, which trailed by 31 with 9:01 to play, before reducing the deficit.
Erin Batth, Clemson's tallest player at 6-foot-4 and its second-leading scorer, was in foul trouble most of the game and fouled out with eight points, four below her average.
"We thought Batth was their key inside," Balcomb said. "She's a good defensive post player. We wanted to go inside and get them into foul trouble, because they don't have much depth there."
Baath picked up two fouls in the first 3 1/2 minutes, and got her third with 7:59 left in the first half.
"Even if they're going at me, I'm a senior, and that shouldn't
happen," Batth said. "Coach calls them 'bonehead' fouls."