Clemson University

How a surprise visit made Senior Day extra special for Clemson basketball player

Clemson senior guard Dani Edwards was going through her typical pregame stretching routine, trying not to get caught up in the emotions of Senior Day prior to Clemson’s Sunday afternoon matchup against Virginia Tech, when a couple of fans walking through the stands caught her eye.

Edwards saw two men that looked a lot like her brothers – Drew and Darryle Edwards – making their way through the crowd. But she didn’t give the notion that her two brothers might actually be in attendance much thought as she knew that they had their own basketball responsibilities to attend to.

Drew is a junior guard on the Providence College basketball team, while Darryle is a grad assistant at Providence. There was no way that the two could have gotten time off to come watch Dani on Senior Day. In fact, it was her understanding that they had practice at 1 p.m., the same time as Clemson’s game tipped off, and they would be unable to watch online.

“I thought I saw them... and I was like, ‘No, that can’t be them because Drew just texted me, my twin, saying that he’ll be at practice, he can’t watch the game,” Dani said.

Only not only were Drew and Darryle able to watch the game, they did so in person.

The two made their way towards the court during pregame until they were close enough that Dani was able tell that without a doubt it was them

“Once I saw them it was tears from there,” she said.

The surprise visitors was the start of a “special” Senior Day for Dani and the Tigers as Clemson went on to earn a 73-66 victory against Virginia Tech, allowing the Tigers to clinch a winning record in ACC play for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Clemson (18-10, 9-6) finishes off the regular season Thursday night at Duke and is in position to earn its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002.

“They’ve worked really, really hard and sacrificed a tremendous amount this season and this is what they deserve,” Tigers coach Amanda Butler said. “It’s not surprising at all to see them make those big plays, hit those big shots, but it’s certainly very, very fulfilling and very gratifying to be able to experience that with them.”

Clemson trailed 33-24 at the half before outscoring the Hokies 49-33 in the final two quarters.

Junior Kobi Thornton led the Tigers with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Edwards added 14 points and nine assists. Edwards made perhaps the biggest shot of the game, drilling a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Tigers a 61-57 lead with 2:57 remaining.

Clemson outscored the Hokies 20-11 over the final five minutes of the game after falling behind 55-53.

The Tigers trailed by as many as 12 points late in the first half before fighting back to earn another big win in what has been a stunning turnaround after Clemson went 4-44 in ACC play over the previous three years.

“Heart, guts, toughness, just a tremendous resilient spirit in them,” Butler said. “And just so happy for them to be experiencing what this feels like in February to be getting big wins against good opponents and just really feeling good about themselves.”

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The State.com
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