Photo Credit: Clemson Athletics

Clemson comeback falls short, Virginia steals away win at Littlejohn

The Clemson men’s basketball team (14-7, 4-6 ACC) fell to the Virginia Cavaliers (17-5, 8-3 ACC) by a score of 66-65 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. 

Despite an eight-point deficit at halftime, the Tigers mounted an impressive comeback. Although they were able to bring it within a one-score game in their final possession, Clemson was unable to hit the final shot, receiving their third home loss this season. 

The Tigers would receive this opportunity from a missed 1-and-1 by Virginia’s Dante Harris with seven seconds to go. Guard Chase Hunter would bring up the ball for the Tigers and find an open Jack Clark, who would attempt the final shot. The shot would hit off the back iron as the buzzer sounded. 

The team felt the presence of the notorious Cavalier defense throughout the first half. The team underwent two scoring droughts of two minutes or more, which allowed Virginia to take an early lead and control the pace throughout the first frame. 

A 9-0 Virginia run later would put Clemson in a tough spot, going down by 11 points with about five minutes to go. With a pair of threes from guard Josh Beadle and Joe Girard II, Clemson would cut the lead and go into the break trailing by eight points. 

The second half would grant head coach Brad Brownell and his squad a lot more success. The team would go on a 7-0 run towards the beginning of the half. Despite this, the Cavaliers would hold their lead to the best of their ability, hitting contested shots and open three-pointers when it mattered to maintain a two-possession lead. 

After tinkering with a one-score game at times, Clemson was finally able to level the score. It came from Girard once again, who ripped an attempt from a far distance that caught nothing but the net. The game would be tied at 54. 

A possession later, center PJ Hall shot a three-pointer, sank it and the Tigers had their first lead since the 16-minute mark in the first half. 

Virginia stuck around, and they would pin the Tigers again on the verge of defeat. After retaking the lead, the Cavaliers’ Issac McKneely would be fouled off a three-point shot, and he would sink the three for an and-1 chance and an eventual four-point play. It would prove to be an important factor down the line. 

The Tigers had four scorers in double-digits on Saturday. Hall would score a team-high 19 points, scoring 17 of those in the second half. He would also grab six rebounds. 

Girard would follow behind with 14 points, scoring four threes out of six attempts.  

Ian Schieffelin and Chase Hunter would also have solid games. Schieffelin would score 13 points and grab a team-high nine rebounds. Hunter would score 12. 

“We just gotta hang in there, keep working,” Brownell said after the loss, “but I am proud of the effort and the quality of play.“

The Tigers will have another tall task in front of them next up, as they will face the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels on Tuesday night in Chapel Hill.

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