The Clemson Tigers have now had victories in their last two games, following the 76-64 victory over the Bellarmine Knights. With three wins on the record, the lone stain on the season remains the last-second loss to the Gamecocks.
My faith in the Clemson Basketball team has been exceedingly low for the better part of 15 months now. The game script for this particular game went exactly how I thought it was going to go, until the final seven minutes of the contest, where the Tigers scored 23 points to finish the game. The explosion of scoring, which started with Schieffelin knocking down two free throws, is the reason Clemson is walking away with a win. The ability to close a game with offense is something that surprised me, in a good way.
Be honest, you have never heard of Bellarmine until about a couple weeks ago. Maybe tonight was the first you have ever seen their name. It is possible you clicked on this article wondering why the Tigers played a community college three weeks into the season. The Knights have been quietly building a squad that is now a very well respected mid-major in college hoops. I promise, this will not be the last time you hear of Bellarmine.
Bellarmine runs the five out system with four guard/wings and a shooting “center” that is usually matchup problem for the Tigers. It was a problem for part of the game, but Clemson was able to take advantage of the tired defense of the Knights down the stretch.
Chase Hunter was the leader of the offense and drained some crucial buckets in crunch time. Hunter, who had 15 points on eight shots, looked in control and on a mission tonight. The 3-point shooting from Hunter stole the show. He had five makes from deep out of his six attempts and a career-high 8 assists.
Ian Schieffelin, whose level of play had deteriorated in the last week since his breakout game against The Citadel reminded us he is still a serviceable player. He made the most of his 19 minutes, notching 13 points.
Brevin Gallaway continues to impress. He never found a rhythm shooting the triple, but did a lot of the little things offensively. He ended this night with 14 points, doing a bit of everything.
Hunter Tyson and Alex Hemenway chimed in offensively, both getting three shots from downtown to fall.
This is a record for me to not mention PJ Hall until this far into the article, which is good thing for the squad. Hall, as we all know, still being very cautious with his lingering knee injury and remains on the minutes restriction. He only played 19 minutes, but had an attacking mindset while on the floor. In fact, he was 7-8 from the free throw line. Attempting only three field goals, he had 10 points, which is something new for Hall.
Bellarmine loves the 3-point shot and they shot it pretty well tonight, 41% from deep (9-22). The percentage was eye-popping, but the volume was not. They simply didn’t shoot enough threes to keep pace with the Tigers. Surprisingly, Clemson didn’t let one singular player burn them, nobody on the Knights made more than two 3-pointers.
This was a total team win for the Tigers, having five players in double-figures and Hemenway chipping in with nine. They won the turnover battle and the rebound battle. It was an all-round solid win.