Thornton scores career-high 27 as Clemson upends Miami

GREENSBORO, N.C. —  Fueled by a career performance from senior leader Kobi Thornton, Clemson won its ACC Tournament opener on Wednesday. Seeded No. 14 in the tournament, the Tigers powered past the Miami Hurricanes, the No. 11 seed, in the first-round tilt inside Greensboro Coliseum, with Clemson earning a 71-56 victory.

Showing out in the shooting department, Clemson (8-22) produced an impressive shooting percentage of 50.9. Miami (15-15), on the other hand, was limited to a 31.7-percent shooting mark. The Tigers amassed 20 points off 14 Hurricane turnovers. Additionally, Clemson connected on seven 3-point attempts, netted 10-of-13 free throws and pulled down 35 rebounds. The Tigers nearly led from wire to wire, with Miami boasting a lead for just 59 seconds of play.

With her final collegiate season on the line, Thornton came through in a major way, scoring a career-high 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 shooting at the foul line. Thornton dominated in the first quarter, tallying 11 points and knocking down impressive shot after impressive shot. The veteran power forward even sank her second career 3-pointer in the early goings. Thornton, who also corralled seven rebounds, moved into 11th place on Clemson’s all-time scoring list and sixth place on the Tigers’ all-time rebounding list. Amari Robinson played well, too, finishing with 16 points. She went 5-for-9 on field goal attempts and 4-for-4 on free throw attempts. Also of note, Kendall Spray tabbed nine points via a trio of 3-pointers and set the program record for the most 3-point shots made in a single season.

The Tigers came out firing in the first quarter, putting up 25 points, which is the highest first-quarter point total for Clemson on the season. Clemson shot 58.8 percent from the floor in the opening period and sported a 25-15 advantage heading into the second quarter. In the second period, the Tigers increased their lead to as many as 12 points, but Miami was able to cut into Clemson’s lead late in the first half.

At the intermission, the Hurricanes trailed the Tigers 37-33, and Miami went on to take its first lead of the evening at the 4:52 mark of the third quarter. Losing 41-39 at that point, Clemson responded quite emphatically, quickly manufacturing a 9-0 run to regain control of the game. The Tigers outscored the Hurricanes 16-3 over the final 3:53 of the third quarter, leading 55-44 at the start of the fourth quarter. Clemson was able to stave off Miami the rest of the way, securing a 71-56 triumph and advancing to the next round of the ACC Tournament.

Clemson will return to the court for second-round ACC Tournament action on Thursday, March 5. The Tigers are set to take on the sixth-seeded Boston College Eagles (18-11) at Greensboro Coliseum. On Sunday, Feb. 9, Clemson came up short to Boston College in a 70-68 battle at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C. Thursday’s contest is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. and air on a regional sports network (RSN).

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