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Clemson basketball narrowly escapes Davidson

William Stehn
The Clemson Tigers are off to a 3-0 start to the 2023-2024 season thanks to players (left to right) Joseph Girard III, Ian Schieffelin, PJ Hall, Chauncey Wiggins and Chase Hunter.

Overcoming an 18-point deficit, the Clemson men’s basketball team defeated the Davidson Wildcats 68-65 in the final game of the Asheville Championship on Sunday, improving to 3-0 on the season. Although the Tigers pulled away victorious, the game was far from pretty.

The savior of the night, PJ Hall, stepped onto the court fresh off of his 27-point performance on Friday. The match against the Wildcats required similar heroics from the senior center, and he answered the call, finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and two blocks.

Right from tipoff, nothing was going right for Clemson at the start of the game. Davidson took advantage of the Tigers, running out to a quick 23-5 lead. The Tigers’ offense could not find the bottom of the basket, and their defense could not keep up with Davidson guard Grant Huffman, who was the only Wildcat to reach double-digit points with 12.

A jumper followed by a crafty reverse layup from guard Josh Beadle jump-started the Tigers in a different direction. The whole team rallied behind this energy and closed the gap to just five as the Tigers entered halftime trailing 28-23.

The second half allowed Clemson’s offense to bounce back, as the Tigers drained 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Joseph Girard III shot 5 for 12 from deep in the game and was complimented nicely by Alex Hemenway, who shot 3 for 8 from behind the arc to provide the Tigers with a much-needed spark off the bench.

Hall made his presence known in the middle as he barrelled through the lane, got tip-in baskets, shelled out passes to Girard and Hemenway for 3-pointers and added a needed force on both the boards and the defensive side of the ball.

Despite the Tigers’ revival after the slow start, the Wildcats stayed right with them, matching any offensive production Clemson had. They refused to allow Clemson to close the game out, but a 3-pointer from Girard with 2:38 left put the Tigers up 64-56 and seemingly contained Davidson’s growing momentum. Davidson refused to go down easy, however, and took advantage of the Tigers’ empty offensive possessions.

After drawing a few fouls, Davidson knocked down all its opportunities at the free-throw line, bringing the score back to 64-60. After another Clemson turnover, Davidson found itself with an opportunity to close the gap, and with two seconds on the shot clock, David Skogman sent up a contested prayer from deep in the 3-point range that somehow found its way into the basket.

As Clemson now looked to the scoreboard, its comfortable lead had been cut to just one with 1:13 left to play. Senior Chase Hunter took matters into his own hands, taking an inbound pass up the court with confidence and finishing strong through contact at the rim. The Wildcats answered right back, and Clemson was left with another big possession in front of them with 30 seconds left.

Hall recognized it as his time, catching the ball in the low post and drawing a foul. At the line, he drained both free throws.

Protecting a three-point lead, Clemson’s defense still had to stand strong for one last possession. Despite allowing two offensive rebounds, the Tigers watched as their efforts paid off in three consecutive misses from Davidson to secure a Clemson victory.

The Tigers will be back in action when they host Boise State at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 19.

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About the Contributors
Brett Porter, Senior Reporter
William Stehn, Asst. Photo Editor
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