Tigers win a close one, knock off Hurricanes 63-59


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CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The Clemson Tigers have suffered through their share of late losses this season, but were able to finally win a close game on Sunday.

Andre Young scored 18 points, Demontez Stitt added 17 and the Tigers broke a two-game losing streak by holding off Miami 63-59 Sunday afternoon at the BankUnited Center.

The Tigers (18-9, 7-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won the last five meetings against the Hurricanes – including a sweep this season – and kept their flickering NCAA Tournament hopes alive with the win.

“It was certainly a really competitive game,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “I am proud of our guys for finding a way to win. We have been in that position several times this year, and we’ve not been able to finish the job in a lot of cases. I think those helped us today. We hit some big shots and some big free throws to win it. Our guys did a pretty good job down the stretch.”

Down by three points in the final moments, the Hurricanes (16-11, 4-8) never had the chance for a potentially tying shot.

Brownell elected to foul Adrian Thomas with a three-point lead with 3.4 seconds left instead of letting the Canes try for the tying 3-pointer. Thomas made one, intentionally missed the second shot and Stitt got the rebound. He was fouled with 1.7 seconds remaining and hit two free throws to seal the victory.

Brownell said the decision to foul Thomas on the play wasn’t an easy one.

“I have done it both ways,” Brownell said. “Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling, and there is no exactly right answer. There were under five seconds left, and any more than that, there is a lot of time left. Even so, we still had to make free throws with 1.7 seconds left. These days, the kids get out and up the court and can get a shot off pretty quickly. We felt like they have so many 3-point shooters, so it was the right decision at the time.”

The loss was Miami’s ninth ACC game to be decided in the final seconds; the Hurricanes dropped to 4-5 in those contests.


The Hurricanes still had their chances, especially after looking to take command late in the second half.

Malcolm Grant hit a 3-pointer with 5:49 left to put Miami up 50-48, and 59 seconds later he made a 3-pointer from the right corner while getting fouled by Stitt. He added the free throw and the Hurricanes were up 54-50.

The Tigers clamped down defensively at that point, holding the Canes scoreless over the next 3:05.

Young's 3-pointer put Clemson back ahead 55-54 with 2:09 left, but Miami reclaimed the lead on Durand Scott's layup on the ensuing Hurricanes' possession. However, Young made a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to put Clemson ahead by one again.

Miami had two chances to either tie or take the lead in the final half-minute, coming up short on both. Scott made one of two free throws with 12.5 seconds left, getting the Hurricanes within one, 59-58.

Young made a pair of free throws 1.6 seconds later. Miami went to Scott to advance the ball, then called its final timeout with just five seconds remaining, setting up the foul on Thomas.

Clemson led 28-27 at the half.

“At the end of the day, it’s a pretty good performance,” Brownell said. “We just got beat by N.C. State in similar fashion, even though it wasn’t as close of a game. That probably helped us coming here. You can point to the teams in our league that are 4-8 and 7-6 and 6-6, and there is just a basket or two difference between all of us. You have to have a couple of breaks. We’ve been in the same situation as today and missed those free throws. But we hit them today and I became a better coach even though I didn’t do anything different.”

The Tigers get a five-day layoff before returning to action next Saturday, hosting Wake Forest (8-19, 1-11) in a 4 p.m. contest in Littlejohn Coliseum.

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