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Schieffelin leads Clemson past Pittsburgh in ACC duel

Toby Corriston
Clemson center PJ Hall (24) attempts to dribble the ball past a Pittsburgh defender in the Tigers’ win over the Panthers on Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Clemson Tigers overcame Pittsburgh in an ACC powerhouse matchup, defeating the Panthers 69-62 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday night.

After 13 lead changes in the second half, the Panthers had a chance to equalize the game with just over one minute remaining. With Clemson leading 63-60, Pittsburgh guard Carlton Carrington missed a 3-pointer to tie the game with 1:07 left in the matchup. A fatal blow for Pittsburgh came on the following possession, as Clemson guard Chase Hunter nailed a deep stepback 3-pointer to invigorate Littlejohn and extend the Tigers’ lead to six points.

An end to Pittsburgh’s comeback hopes came after a foul on Carrington a minute later. After making the first free throw, the freshman guard missed the second. Clemson forward Jack Clark rebounded the ball on the miss, heaving it downcourt to a mobile Ian Schieffelin, who threw it down in powerful fashion to put the exclamation mark on the victory for the Tigers (20-8, 10-7 ACC).

“That was awesome. I caught it, and I was ready to dunk it as hard as I could,” Schieffelin said after the win. “I was probably celebrating a little too long.”

The game was not always in Clemson’s hands. Led by guards Jaland Lowe and Ishmael Leggett, the Panthers (18-10, 9-8 ACC) took an early lead and were up by 10 midway through the first half. As halftime approached, the Tigers stepped up their shooting, with guard Joseph Girard III manning the helm with multiple baskets to bring Clemson within four points heading into the break.

In the second half, Pittsburgh’s lead was diminished due to a lack of baskets and effective defensive adjustments by Clemson, and it was no longer safe in either team’s hands. The Tigers took control of the hot hand, scoring in the second half from makes by guard Josh Beadle and Schieffelin, who recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Clemson center PJ Hall had high praise for Schieffelin, who continues to make his case for the most improved player in the ACC.

“It’s also having a freaking dog in you,” Hall said. “Not a lot of people have that like Ian Schieffelin. It’s fun to play with.”
Like Schieffelin, Hall also finished with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the win.

Stepping up on defense, especially in the second half, was crucial for the Tigers’ victory. After shooting 37.9% from the field and 50% from deep in the first half, Pittsburgh shot 28.1% and just 13.3% from beyond the arc in the second half. Clemson’s offense, meanwhile, shot 56% from the field in the second half compared to 39% in the first.

“We just did a better job of the players understanding exactly how they were playing,” head coach Brad Brownell said of the adjustments into the second half. “I’m so proud of our guys for being able to guard them as well as we did.”

Not only did the game plan and adjustments help secure the win, but the Tigers’ bench also provided an extra push. Like in recent games, RJ Godfrey and Josh Beadle came up big in the second half, relieving Hall and the starters. The pair combined for 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.

“One thing, for Beadle, he comes in late, and the dude is a ball of energy,” Hall said of the sophomore guard. “Good luck trying to stay in front of him.”

“Then you have RJ Godfrey, who is just a bully and looks like a tight end playing out there. They’re both huge for us,” Hall added.

After its crucial win against the Panthers, Clemson is in a prime position to obtain a top 4 seed in the ACC Tournament, which would give the Tigers a double-bye, following Wake Forest’s loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday night.

Next, the Tigers will travel to South Bend, Indiana, with their next game against Notre Dame on Saturday at 7:45 pm at the Purcell Pavilion.

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Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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