Free throws propel Tigers to overtime win

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Point guard Demontez Stitt scored 15 points and the Clemson Tigers hit 13-of-14 free throws in overtime, beating Seton Hall 64-58 in the consolation game of the Paradise Jam Monday evening, giving the Tigers a third place finish in the tournament.

Devin Booker added 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Clemson (4-1), while Tanner Smith scored 10 points and had eight rebounds.

Booker hit 1-of-2 free throws with three seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, and Clemson scored 13 of their 17 points in the extra period from the foul line.

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said he felt good about having Booker at the line with a chance to win the game.

“I felt good about it. One of our options was for him to go to the basket and try and score,” Brownell said. “You’re not going to run a play for a guy if you don’t think he can make his free throws. He had been to the line throughout the game, so I knew he had a feel for it. He had just scored a basket for us on the lob play on the out-of-bounds play. He felt comfortable up there. Thankfully he made the second one to give us a chance to win the game in overtime.”

Booker said it was really the first time in his career he had been at the free throw line with game hanging in the balance.

“There was a lot of pressure,” Booker said. “I knew the fans would make a lot of noise. I knew the team had faith in me, and I just wanted to go out there and make some clutch free throws. That was the first time I’ve been put in that position. I knew I had to take care of it.”

Seton Hall missed all nine of its three-point attempts in the first half, and Clemson led 26-19 at intermission, and both teams struggled from the field in the second half. The Pirates made just enough plays in the second period to force the overtime, despite going just 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half.

The Tigers forced 20 turnovers.

Jeff Robinson scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds in defeat for Seton Hall (2-3).

Brownell said that he was pleased with the play of his perimeter players, but wanted his inside players to step up their game.

“We didn’t get it inside as much as we would have liked,” Brownell said. “We had to guard their ball screens, and our guys did a good job with that. We have to do a better job of finding a way to get inside and score some points.

“We don’t have one superstar on this team, but we have a lot of guys that can play. We relied on every one of them tonight. Guys stepped for us in the overtime period and made free throws. The strength of our team is our veteran players, in particular our backcourt.”

The Tigers return to action this Friday night when they host the South Carolina State Bulldogs in Littlejohn Coliseum. The game starts at 7 p.m.

Booker said the team needed to leave the islands with a win.

“We knew we had to have this game,” Booker said. “We had to come out and give it our all. We made some tough baskets in the final minute and in overtime, and we were able to pull it out.”

Postgame Notes

Team Notes

* Clemson won by a score of 64-58 in overtime in the third place consolation game in the Paradise Jam. The Tigers put together a 2-1 record with wins over Long Beach State and Seton Hall.

* It was Clemson’s first overtime win since an 80-75 triumph at home over Wake Forest in the 2007-08 season.

* It was Clemson’s first overtime win over a non-conference foe since the Tigers took down South Carolina 63-62 in Columbia, SC in 2004 on Cheyenne Moore’s game-winning three-pointer.

* It was the first overtime game played by Clemson since the 2008-09 season when the Tigers lost to Virginia by a score of 85-81 in Charlottesville.

* Clemson shot 29.3 percent (17-of-58) from the floor, yet won the game.
It is the first time in the ACC era (1954-present) that Clemson has shot under 30 percent as a team and won a game.

* The win was Clemson’s first against a Big East team since the Tigers defeated DePaul in the 2007 San Juan Shootout.

* Clemson improved to 12-22 all-time versus teams currently in the Big East Conference.

* Head Coach Brad Brownell improved his personal record to 14-3 in four- and eight-team tournaments throughout his career, which includes four years apiece at UNC Wilmington and Wright State.

* With the win, Clemson has now won 36 of its last 38 games in the month of November. The Tigers have also won 15 of their last 18 games in regular season tournaments during that time.

* Clemson hit 13-of-14 free throws in the overtime period for a success rate of 93 percent. The Tigers had made just 6-of-14 in the second half of Monday’s game.

* The Tigers tied a season-high with 13 offensive rebounds on Monday and did a good job of converting those into scores. Clemson won the second chance scoring battle by a score of 11-6.

Individual Notes

* Demontez Stitt was the Tigers’ high scorer for the second consecutive game, leading the way with 15 points. He struggled from the field, but hit a season-best 7-of-8 from the free throw line.

* Stitt averaged 16.3 points per game in the three games in the Virgin Islands, while shooting 75 percent from the free throw line.

* Stitt collected three steals in the game to give him seven on the season and 127 for his career. He needs just five steals to pass Edward Scott
(1999-2003) for 15th place in the Clemson record books.

* Stitt is rapidly closing in on the 1,000 point plateau. He needs just 30 points to reach the mark and become the 34th player in Clemson history with 1,000 points.

* Jerai Grant blocked thee shots in Monday’s game, giving him a total of
126 for his career. With his total, he has tied former Tiger forward John “Moose” Campbell (1977-80) for seventh place in the Clemson record books.

* Tanner Smith drew six charges in the 2010 Paradise Jam for an average of two per game. He took at least one in all three games.

* Smith also made 14-of-15 free throws, including 7-of-8 against Seton Hall, in the tournament to improve to 71 percent on the season.

* Devin Booker scored 12 of his 14 points after halftime in the win over Seton Hall. He played a career-high 32 minutes and made 8-of-13 free throws, including one with 3.2 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

* Andre Young grabbed four steals in the win Monday, a season-high by any Tiger so far this season. He now has 92 for his career.

* Young hit a pair of three-point goals in Monday’s win and leads the team through five games with an accuracy of 50 percent (12-of-24) from long range.

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