ATLANTA - Kaela Davis had a career-high 31 points, including the last of her 12 field goals on a go-ahead jumper in overtime. But Clemson’s Nikki Dixon had the game’s final and most important basket.
Dixon drove nearly the entire length of the floor and converted a lay up with eight seconds left in overtime, lifting Clemson to an 80-79 victory in Atlantic Coast Conference play Thursday at McCamish Pavilion.
Dixon, playing just 25 miles from where she played her prep ball at Milton High School and who earlier in the game passed the 1,000-point barrier, had 14 points in the second half and overtime, while the freshman stand out Davis topped her previous high of 29 points against Alabama A&M December 7.
Clemson (11-11, 3-5), not only avenged a home loss to the Yellow Jackets January 8, but snapped a nine-game losing streak in the series, winning for the first time since March, 2009.
After Dixon’s bucket, Tech (13-8, 3-5) was without a time out and Tyaunna Marshall was short on a potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
Chancie Dunn’s lay up off a pretty feed from Chelsea Lindsay put Clemson up 75-73 with two and a half minutes to go in the extra session. Quinyotta Pettaway, who was outstanding off the bench with 18 points, had a bucket to make it a 78-75 game at the 1:34 mark.
Davis had six of Tech’s eight points in overtime, including two consecutive jumpers that give the Yellow Jackets a 79-78 advantage with 13 seconds to play.
With three and a half minutes to play in regulation, Clemson pulled even for the first time since the 9:30 mark of the first half on a foul line jumper from Dunn to square things at 65-65.
Davis and Dixon traded three-point plays with Dixon’s putting Clemson up 70-68 with just over two minutes to play.
Marshall hit 3-of-4 free throws to put Tech up 71-70 and after Charmaine Tay hit one from the line to knot things up at 71-71, each team had a chance to hit the game-winning shot. First Marshall missed a fadeaway jumper from the foul line and Kelly Gramlich’s running 3-pointer was short at the buzzer.
Clemson came into the game last in the ACC averaging just four 3-pointers, but Kelly Gramlich came off the bench and was 3-of-4 from long range through the first nine minutes, including a three at the 11:06 mark that put Clemson up for the first time at 18-16.
Gramlich’s hot start was part of a big half for the Clemson bench as fellow reserves Quinyotta (10 points) and Tay (seven points) helped make up for the starters hitting just four first-half field goals.
Davis had a three-point play, a strong drive for a lay up and a 3-pointer, part of a 15-6 run that gave Tech a 31-24 lead with 7:41 to go until halftime.
In between, the junior Dixon had a lay up to reach 1,000 career points.
Later, Davis drained another 3-pointer, her fourth of a 17-point first half, to give the Yellow Jackets a 43-32 lead. The visitors from South Carolina scored eight of the last 10 points of the half and made it a 45-40 game when Dixon had a coast-to-coast lay up with five seconds left.
Davis led a strong half from three-point range for Tech, which hit on 7-of-10 from bend the arc.