The Clemson Tigers (16-3) (5-2) used a barrage of three-pointers to defeat the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (13-7) (3-4) by a score of 67-58 on Saturday afternoon in Littlejohn Coliseum. The win is the programs first ever over the Fighting Irish for the Clemson program, who had lost all five of the team’s previous meetings and improves Clemson’s home record to 11-0 on the season in Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers began the afternoon contest much like they finished the second half of the North Carolina game as they hit their first seven shots, including their first three three-point attempts from Marcquise Reed, Gabe DeVoe and Donte Grantham, before an Elijah Thomas blocked layup ended the run which led the Tigers to an early 13-5 lead.
For the Tigers this season, the old adage of “live by the three-pointer, die by the three-pointer” is certainly applicable, as soon after the 7-for-7 start, Clemson would go more than four minutes without a made field goal, allowing Notre Dame to edge back into the game with some scoring help from an unlikely source. Sophomore Forward John Mooney was averaging four points-per-game entering this contest, and in a span of 57 seconds of game time, Mooney managed to double that average with two three-pointers and a layup to trim the Clemson lead down to three points.
The half would end with a three-point Clemson lead with half of their 24 shots coming from behind the three-point line, and Notre Dame nipping at their heels. As the teams emerged from the locker room, the Tigers looked to get to the paint a bit more, but the story of the game remained much of the same. Clemson relied on Gabe DeVoe and his game high 3 three-pointers, while Notre Dame continued to look for answers in the absence of an injured Bonzie Colson and the poor start by Senior Guard Matt Farrell, who was blanketed most of the game by a stingy Tiger defensive combination of Gabe DeVoe and David Skara.
The remainder of the second half turned into a story about injury and emergence. With about five minutes remaining and the Tiger lead hovering between eight and three points, Senior Donte Grantham drove to the basket before collapsing to the floor immediately grasping at his right knee. Grantham was helped off the floor without the ability to put weight on his leg and remained on the bench for the remainder of the game with an ice pack. (Clemson Basketball has yet to release a statement on the health of Grantham, but Coach Brad Brownell stated that they will be performing an MRI on the knee shortly. We will inform you as soon as news is released)
With Grantham sidelined with injury, freshman Aamir Simms was thrust into action in an important ACC game. With under two minutes to go and Clemson up by only three points, some good ball movement opened up the freshman for a corner three.
Moments later with Notre Dame down seven, John Mooney went to the rim to cut the lead to five points before Simms rose up with a thunderous block to give Clemson possession of the ball again and seal the victory as the Tigers moved to 5-2 in ACC play.
The Tigers were led in scoring by Gabe DeVoe who finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds to go along with his three made three-pointers. Marquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell both finished with 12 points of their own with Mitchel adding seven rebounds and five assists. Grantham rounded out the double-figure scorers with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and two blocks before leaving due to injury. The Tigers shot 23-of-52 (44.2%) from the field on the day and 9-for-23 (39.1%) from behind the arc.
Notre Dame was led by TJ Gibbs with 18 points and Mooney and Martinas Geben rounded out the Notre Dame double figure scorers with 13 and 10 respectively. Notre Dame outrebounded the Tigers on the day 38-32 and again, Clemson struggled on the offensive boards, giving up 11 to the Irish on the day.
The Tigers will travel to Charlottesville on Tuesday evening as they take on the #2 ranked Virginia Cavaliers and the streaking Tigers will have to hope that they can keep their shots falling to pull off the road upset. In the past two games, Clemson has gone on streaks of 15-for-15 and 7-for-7 in field goals attempted which means that Clemson has the opportunity to be in any game that they play in. The downside being with a majority of those Clemson shots coming from beyond the arc, no Tiger lead can be considered safe as they have the ability to go on long scoring droughts that can match their hot shooting. Which team will we see Tuesday night? Join us on Shakin the Southland to find out and for all of your Clemson Basketball coverage.