CLEMSON -- Winthrop's women's basketball team twice closed to within a point in the second half against Clemson on Tuesday night, but couldn't get over the hump.
Clemson answered both times with Tasha Taylor 3-pointers and won 76-68 at Littlejohn Coliseum, spoiling a second-half comeback and a career-best game by Winthrop point guard Yvonne van Daalen.
Clemson's second answer was a killer. With 1:14 on the clock and the shot clock running down, Taylor missed a 16-foot jumper.
But Kristyn Wright pulled down the offensive rebound and passed back out to Taylor. This time, the Lady Tigers' sole senior drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Clemson a 73-68 lead with 53 seconds left.
The loss dropped Winthrop to 2-2 in what is being called the "mini-season" due to various players missing time to suspensions and injuries.
The Lady Eagles trailed by 12 at the half but cut the lead to 58-57 on a leaner by Ashley Fann with 8:48 left. Taylor was the go-to player again for Clemson when she connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Lady Tigers back up by four.
"I was kind of hesitant with my shot the whole game, but I knew I had to step up as a senior and hit a shot," said Taylor, who finished with 8 points.
Winthrop placed four scorers in double figures, paced by van Daalen's career-high 17 points. She added eight rebounds and six assists. Ashley Haugtvedt also scored 17. Ashley Fann got her third-straight double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Van Daalen was more offensive-minded against the Tigers. She drove to the basket for a couple easy buckets and drove against the shot clock twice to draw fouls on Clemson.
"I was more aggressive. I saw some openings and made good decisions. Plus, I made my free throws," van Daalen said.
She shot only 50 percent from the stripe a year ago but finished 7-for-8 against Clemson.
"Our four seniors really stepped up tonight," Winthrop coach Bud Childers said. "There aren't many times you lose a game and feel good about it. We mixed our defenses, we were even on the boards. We are proving that we can play with anyone."
Winthrop's defense took about 17 minutes to settle into the game. The Eagles trailed 42-27 with 3:01 left in the first half.
Clemson tallied 44 first-half points. Winthrop allowed 61, 60 and 55 points in the first three games of the year.
The Lady Eagles have prided themselves on holding opponents' field-goal percentage down. Last year's opponents shot 34 percent against Winthrop. Clemson made 18-of-35 from the floor and 4-for-9 on 3-pointers in the first half for a 44-32 lead.
Childers summed up the first-half defense as a result of playing Division II Newberry on Saturday and then taking on an ACC school.
"The first half was a residual effect," Childers said.
Clemson has had trouble handling the ball, committing 20 or more turnovers in three games already. But Winthrop failed to take advantage, especially in the first half.
Clemson coach Cristy McKinney has worked hard to rectify the problem.
"We had been real inconsistent handling the ball. We emphasized that in practice this week," McKinney said. "It wasn't anyone's pressure causing turnovers. We just made good decisions tonight."
Clemson had just seven turnovers. Winthrop had 16 resulting in 23 points for the Lady Tigers.
Winthrop limited Clemson's leading scorer, Lele Hardy, to eight points. The Spartanburg High School product did her damage with 11 rebounds. The Lady Tigers turned 16 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points.
"That was our problem the whole game. We didn't box out hard enough," Haugtvedt said. (Clemson) didn't have us in height, but Hardy killed us on the boards."
Next up for the Lady Eagles is a pair of games in the Xavier Thanksgiving Tournament this weekend in Cincinnati. Winthrop plays 25th-ranked Xavier on Saturday and Tennessee-Martin on Sunday.