Heels outlast Tigers in overtime


by - Senior Writer -
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Blossomgame scores two of his points in the first half

CLEMSON – Clemson had 14th-ranked North Carolina on the ropes Saturday night, but missed free throws and turnovers in overtime cost the Tigers Tuesday night as North Carolina escaped with an 89-86 victory, snapping Clemson’s nine-game winning streak.

Clemson falls to 11-3 overall and 1-1 in the ACC while UNC improves to 13-3 and 1-1.

Clemson hit just 13-of-19 free throws and allowed North Carolina a whopping 23 offensive rebounds. Jaron Blossomgame led Clemson with 24 points, while Avry Holmes added 20 and Marcquise Reed 17. Joel Berry had a career-high 31 to lead UNC.

“Terrific game. Great plays were made by players on both teams," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. "I’m proud of my guys for the way we competed and fought. We had a chance to win; we just didn’t get it done. Certainly, rebounding and dribble penetration were the problems for us defensively. We didn’t guard dribble penetration well enough. Sometimes, that created help situations, and in those situations against North Carolina, you’re in trouble on the glass. Offensive rebounds were probably the difference.”

The Heels jumped out to a quick 11-7 lead, but the Tigers got the Littlejohn crowd into the game early over the next two minutes with a 7-0 run. The run started with a Shelton Mitchell steal, and he promptly dished to Avry Holmes in the corner for a 3-pointer that made it 11-10

A steal by Grantham led to a Blossomgame dunk, and Holmes picked off a pass at the top of the key and drove the distance for a layup that made it 14-11 with just under 16 minutes to play in the half.

The teams battled to a virtual stalemate over the next 14 minutes, and when Joel Berry hit a 3-pointer with just 1:24 to play in the half Clemson led just 38-36. However, Marcquise Reed followed with a 3-pointer of his own and Blossomgame had a dunk that made it 43-36. The Heels added a late bucket and Clemson led 43-38 at intermission.

“Offensively, I thought we played a great first half. I thought we really moved the ball," Brownell said. "I thought we made shots. In the second half, we weren’t quite as good. Our defense was good in terms of activity level. We got deflections. We got some steals. We did some things to be disruptive, but we weren’t very sound in terms of individual on-ball defense.”

The Heels came out hot after the break and took the lead at 50-49 on a layup by Isaiah Hicks at the 14:45 mark. North Carolina kept firing and eventually increased the lead to five on a 3-pointer by Berry at the 11:54 mark. Mitchell drained a 3-pointer on the other end, however, and UNC held a 60-58 lead with 11:02 to play in the game.

Clemson went up by four at 64-60 on a 3-pointer by Holmes two minutes later, but the Heels’ Berry caught fire and hit four consecutive 3-pointers to put UNC up 73-67 with just over five minutes to play. Kennedy Meeks then hit a layup for UNC’s biggest lead of the game at 75-67, but Holmes broke the streak with a trey of his own to make it 75-70.

Holmes followed that with a drive that made it 75072, and Reed hit two free throws to trim the UNC lead to one at 75-74 with just under four minutes to play.

UNC extended the lead to 77-74 on two free throws by Meeks, and both teams had chances to score over the next 90 seconds but failed to put points on the board. When Clemson turned the ball over with 29 seconds remaining, it appeared the Heels would be able to put the game away.

Jackson missed a free throw, however, and Reed drove the length of the court and pulled up for a tying 3-pointer with 22 seconds to play. The Heels promptly turned it over, but Holmes missed the front end of a one-and-one with five seconds left to give UNC a final shot.

Berry drove the length of the court, but his shot went high off the glass, and the teams went to overtime.

The teams traded baskets in overtime and were tied at 81-81 when Blossomgame hit the second of two shots to give Clemson the 82-81 lead. It didn’t last long as Meeks hit a follow on the other end to make it 83-82, but he missed the foul shot. Clemson missed a shot on the other end from Djitte, and Djitte was called for goaltending on the defensive end to give UNC the 85-82 lead with just over 30 seconds to play.

Reed drove the lane and picked up the foul, and he continued Clemson’s free throw woes by missing the first shot. He hit the second, and Brownell called timeout with 19.2 seconds remaining as UNC held an 85-83 lead.

Williams was fouled and hit both free throws for an 87-83 lead, and the Tigers turned it over on the next possession, and the Heels claimed the win.

"That was a heck of a college basketball game, ACC game, that went right down to the wire," UNC head coach Roy Williams said. "I thought we had some chances to get more than a one-possession lead and we missed a couple of free throws and had a couple of turnovers and Clemson kept coming back. They were really something."

Clemson returns to action Saturday, playing at Notre Dame in South Bend. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.

Postgame Quotes

Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:
“Terrific game. Great plays were made by players on both teams. I’m proud of my guys for the way we competed and fought. We had a chance to win; we just didn’t get it done. Certainly, rebounding and dribble penetration were the problems for us defensively. We didn’t guard dribble penetration well enough. Sometimes, that created help situations, and in those situations against North Carolina, you’re in trouble on the glass. Offensive rebounds were probably the difference.”

On his team’s overall play:
“Offensively, I thought we played a great first half. I thought we really moved the ball. I thought we made shots. In the second half, we weren’t quite as good. Our defense was good in terms of activity level. We got deflections. We got some steals. We did some things to be disruptive, but we weren’t very sound in terms of individual on-ball defense.”

Thoughts moving forward in ACC play:
“I like our team. It’s a great league, and these are the kind of games you’re going to be in. You’re going to have to win a bunch of close games. Guys need to make shots, make plays and get big defensive stops. Certainly, I like this team. I like the way we’re playing and competing. But this is a great league. We’re going to go to Notre Dame next, so another Top 25 team is par for the course.”


North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams
Opening statement:
“Needless to say, we feel a heck of a lot better than we did on Saturday. That was a heck of a college basketball game, ACC game, that went right down to the wire. I thought we had some chances to get more than a one-possession lead and we missed a couple of free throws and had a couple of turnovers and Clemson kept coming back. They were really something. [Jaron] Blossomgame starts off the overtime, jumped up with his left shoulder which we know is his favorite move and we still couldn’t stop it. But I was really pleased with Joel Berry, except for the turnovers. He had two crucial turnovers that you don’t like, but man, oh, man, did he make some big time shots for us. There’s no question about that.

“Kennedy [Meeks] was big on the boards, 10 offensive rebounds, and the rebound margin was 51-32, and second chance points 23-3. We have more size than they do, and I think that was a big factor in the game. Both teams made plays. We had them down six or eight, and they came storming back and made some shots. Marcquise [Reed] stepped into a big time three-pointer. We were on the line for the 1-and-1, in a three-point game and missed it, and he went down just as calm as you can and jumps up and knocks a three in. Then, they missed a free throw with five seconds to play. We go down and Joel [Berry] gets a very tough shot, and it would have been fine for that one to go in, but his shooting [was crucial]. Kenny Williams made a big basket for us in overtime. Then he stepped up and made two big free throws before Kennedy made a big play on the out-of-bounds to throw it deep for us.”

On Kenny Williams’ performance in overtime:
“He missed one right in front of our bench, but he made the big one. I think he made the first basket or the second basket of overtime after they had taken the two-point lead, and came up with some loose balls. He had four rebounds, only one on the offensive end. But he did step up and make the two free throws and made it look like he had been there and done that before.”

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