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Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, South Carolina Attendance: 493
Van Lith scores 34 as No. 4 Louisville tops Clemson 93-71
By PETE IACOBELLI
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Hailey Van Lith sensed No. 4 Louisville needed a lift. She was more than ready to deliver in the Cardinals' latest victory.
Van Lith had a career-high 34 points, including 16 in the decisive third quarter, as Louisville won its 10th straight over the Tigers 93-71 on Thursday night.
Van Lith got the Cardinals going after Clemson had rallied from 12 points down to tie things at 44 in the third quarter.
"Offensively, I thought we were a little stagnant," Van Lith said. "We needed someone to make reads, get shots up and get hot. My shot's been feeling good, so I thought, `Why not?'"
Van Lith put Louisville ahead to stay with a tiebreaking 3-pointer, then added 13 more points in the period as the Cardinals (20-2, 10-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) reached the 20-win mark for the 12th straight season.
Van Lith finished 13-of-16 shooting overall and made all six attempts from behind the arc.
"I'm not really surprised about the 3-point percentage, but I'm really happy with my pullups and incorporating other shots into my game," said Van Lith, a sophomore from Wenatchee, Wash.
Clemson coach Amanda Butler said her team couldn't stop Van Lith's on-target attack.
"Whenever she looked at the rim, points came up instantly on the scoreboard," she said.
Louisville had opened a 12-point lead in the second quarter, yet Clemson (7-15, 1-10) tied things at 44 on Amari Robinson's three-point play shortly after halftime.
That's when Van Lith got the Cardinals going. She broke the tie with a 3-pointer, then followed with a layup. Two minutes later, Van Lith added another 3 for a 10-point edge. She tacked on a three-point play and by the time Van Lith canned her fifth 3-pointer, the Cardinals were rolling, up 70-54 with 34.1 seconds to go in the third period as coach Jeff Walz punched the air in celebration of the made basket.
Van Lith surpassed her previous career best of 24, set against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament last March. Her six 3s matched her career high, accomplished twice last season, including the win over Wake.
Van Lith "was about as efficient as you can be," Walz said. "She was very poised in doing it. She never forced a shot and let it come to her."
Clemson hasn't beaten Louisville since 1993, the Cardinals winning 10 straight meetings - all since Louisville joined the ACC - by an average margin of 24 points.
Washington, Clemson's leading scorer this season, surpassed her average of 15.1 points by halftime with 18 off four 3-pointers.
Washington finished with a season high 28 points with five 3-pointers.
Clemson's Amari Robinson had 18 points, but was held scoreless after her three-point play that tied the game at 44.
THE BIG PICTURE
Louisville: The Cardinals have had quite the madcap road trip and have so far handled it in style. They rallied in the fourth quarter to win at Miami last Tuesday and pulled away in the second half at Clemson. They'll close a stretch of four games on eight days Sunday at Syracuse.
Clemson: The Tigers took Louisville's first burst at the end of the first quarter and fought back to tie one of the country's best teams. But Clemson got worn down by the Cardinals and had no answer when Van Lith heated up.
Walz said his team has enjoyed getting on the court as often as they have recently.
"Trust me, they'd rather play games than practice," he said with a smile.
The Cardinals opened things Sunday with home win over Duke, then won at Miami on Tuesday before facing Clemson. They'll stop off on campus before heading to Syracuse for a game Sunday.
The Tigers reached the NCAA Tournament in 2019 in Butler's first season as coach. They had aspirations of a return this season, but have won just once in their past 12 games.
The 71 points scored by the Tigers tied for the most Louisville's given up this season.
"We've got to take these best versions of some of these categories and put them together," Butler said.
Louisville: finishes a three-game road trip at Syracuse on Sunday.
Clemson: goes to Virginia on Sunday.
More AP women's college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
Updated February 4, 2022