Clemson transfer Joseph Girard III had yet to find his groove through two games with the Tigers, and after an 0-for-4 start from three against Davidson on Sunday, it seemed his searching would continue for at least another game.
The fifth-year senior had other ideas, however, and made 5 of his next 8 from long range to help Clemson overcome an 18-point first-half deficit and escape with a 68-65 win in the the title game of the Asheville Championship.
To be fair to Girard, nobody else on his team did much in the game’s first 11 minutes, as Clemson floundered its way to a 23-5 deficit and appeared on the verge of getting run out of the building. A five-point spurt off the bench from Josh Beadle helped spark an 18-2 run for the Tigers, though, and they found themselves down just 28-23 heading into the halftime break.
Davidson scored on its first two possesions of the second half to stretch the margin to nine points, but Clemson battled back and took a 38-37 lead on a 3-pointer by Alex Hemenway with 15:09 to play. The score remained close until another Hemenway three, followed by a PJ hall jumper gave the Tigers a 61-52 lead with less then six minutes remaining.
The Wildcats wouldn’t go quietly, however, and forged an 11-2 run over the next four-plus minutes to slice the Clemson lead to just one with 1:14 left. The teams traded layups, then Hall drew a foul with 21 seconds remaining and made both free throws to put the Tigers up by three.
Davidson had three opportunities to tie the score on the game’s final possession but was unable to convert a tying basket before the final buzzer, and Clemson escaped with its second dramatic win in three days.
Girard and Hall led the way for the Tigers with 17 points apiece, while Hemenway and RJ Godfrey combined for 19 points off the bench.
The Wildcats got a balanced scoring effort with eight players posting at least six points, and Grant Huffman led the way with 12.
Clemson moved to 3-0 on the season and hosts Boise State next Sunday.