Tigers ride second half run to down Hurricanes
Chase Hunter scored 20 points to lead the Tigers.

Tigers ride second half run to down Hurricanes

by - Staff Writer -

CLEMSON - This time, a Clemson second-half run was the difference in a Tigers-Hurricanes basketball battle.

Brad Brownell’s Tigers came out on top by dominating the final minutes to even the season series with Miami and down the Hurricanes, 77-60.

Clemson is on its first three-game winning streak in ACC play this season, improving to 17-7 overall and 7-6 in conference play. Miami edged closer to its NCAA Tournament bubble being burst, dropping a fourth in the last five games (15-10, 6-8).

Chase Hunter scored a game-high 20 points, posting 12 of that in the second half. He was joined in double-figures on Clemson by Joseph Girard III (18) and PJ Hall (13).

After leading by as much as seven, Clemson went cold into the break.

The Tigers gained that kind of advantage by sinking 6-of-10 and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc to start, with reigning ACC player of the week Girard III leading the way in double-digits at the half scoring (10).

The Tigers missed 10 of their final 11 shots and went 0-for-7 down the stretch in the first half while going scoreless for the final 3:54. Hall was limited to three points on a lone field goal attempt the entire half.

What remained to be seen was how Clemson’s defending in the second half would go after giving up a six-point lead, 75% shooting and 60 points in the second session of the 95-82 defeat in Coral Gables to start the calendar year.

Results were mixed early.

Miami took its first lead since there were over 13 minutes left in the first half, hitting its first two 3-pointers of the session, but an Ian Schieffelin dunk broke a six-plus minute Tigers scoring drought and Hall free throws put Clemson back on top with under 16 minutes to go.

A 9-0 Clemson run prompted a Hurricanes timeout with under 14 minutes left, with Girard scoring a quick five points to add to his game-leading total and a six-point Clemson lead.

The Hurricanes answered back with a 9-0 run of its own, while Clemson’s offense went back to a struggle, which brought a Brad Brownell timeout. Miami hit six shots in a row to a six-point lead with 10 minutes left.

After a 1-for-7 Clemson start from three in the half, Schieffelin’s trey, and then a Josh Beadle drive and hoop brought Clemson back to within one with just over eight minutes left. A Chase Hunter 3-pointer and free throw tied things up at 57-all, and another Hunter 3-pointer gave Clemson a 3-point edge with under six to go. The Littlejohn Coliseum crowd then really got loud on a Jack Clark steal and drive for a layup to put the Tigers up five. Girard free throws from a 3-point shot made it a 12-0 run and an 8-point Clemson edge.

“Seeing one or two threes go in opens things up for a guy like me. Seeing a bunch of shots go in helped us," Clark said, who added six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

After another Hunter layup, Schieffelin fed Hall for a dunk to put Clemson up nine with three minutes left. A Clark fadeaway jumper to beat the shot clock pushed the lead to double-digits with two to go. Clemson finished on a 12-0 run.

"Last ten minutes, (we) played at an unbelievable level," Brownell said. "Tonight the good fortune followed (Chase Hunter). His shot-making was huge...(After Miami took the 6-point lead), we had a little gut-check time. Thought we made a few adjustments and we made the plays to win...I think (our fans) made a big difference."

Miami had three scorers post 23 points and up in the first meeting, but only Norchad Omier topped 15 points for the Hurricanes in Clemson (18).

The Tigers improved to 18-17 against Miami all-time.

Clemson returns to action by hosting NC State on Saturday (7:45 p.m./TheCW), where Clark will face his old team and the Tigers will face former Clemson forward Ben Middlebrooks.

Clemson Notes: Clemson improved to 17-7 overall and 7-6 in ACC play … the Tigers won their third conference game in a row with the win over Miami … the win marked the 26th in program history occurring on Valentine’s Day – the most of any day on the calendar in Clemson history … the Tigers finished 13-30 from three (43.3%) and moved to 8-0 this season when shooting 40.0 percent or better from three and to 101-26 in the Brownell Era … PJ Hall finished with 13 points, extending his double-digit scoring streak to 34 consecutive games.

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