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Nov. 22, 2003

Lakeia Stokes and Julie Aderhold led Clemson to a 103-99 overtime victory against South Carolina Friday night in one of the greatest women’s basketball games in the history of the state.

In the season opener for both teams, a 3-pointer by Julie Talley with 1:53 remaining in overtime gave the Tigers the lead for good and started a 7-0, game-winning run at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Stokes, who scored a career-high 32 points, was happy because the victory avenged a 72-58 loss at USC in last season’s opener. Aderhold, who also posted a career high with 24 points, was just glad it was over.

It didn’t have to be an exciting finish for Clemson, because the Tigers led 79-64 with seven minutes remaining in regulation. But USC forced overtime with a dramatic rally. Kelly Morrone, who scored 21 points, made three 3-pointers in the final 5:47, including a shot with 1.7 seconds remaining that sent the game to overtime tied at 91.

USC led 95-93 with two minutes left in overtime after a layin by Olga Gritsaeva before Talley fired in a high-arcing 3-pointer from the wing. Stokes rebounded a Talley miss on Clemson’s next possession and laid the ball in the basket as the Tigers held off USC in the extra period.

“This was a tough one for our team, and a great opportunity for our team to learn and move forward,” head coach Susan Walvius said. “If you would have told me before the game that we’d shoot 44% in the game, I’d say that we had a good chance of winning.

“We did not do a good job of defending the transition tonight. We gave up too many uncontested three-point baskets and layups.Last year’s team won by pressuring the ball and keeping up the defensive intensity. And we didn’t have that intensity tonight.

“You have to credit Clemson for lighting it up with three-pointers. We expected them to pound it into the post and they came out firing in the first half. We made adjustments at halftime and caught back up.

“I thought that we had the momentum going into overtime. Our preseason conditioning program has us in great shape. But we left the shooter open and stopped rebounding in overtime, which was what killed us in the first half. We played hurried and rushed our shots.

“Cristina Ciocan had a great game after starting out slowly. She could have played with more poise early but Clemson did a great job of guarding her. I’m proud of the way that Kelly Morrone got the team back into the game and put us in overtime with her three-point shot. Olga Gritsaeva did a great job scoring and grabbing rebounds with her first career double-double.

“I was pleased with the abilities ofour freshmen tonight. Lauren Simms and Iva Sliskovic didn’t have their best games tonight but this will help them get through the jitters.”