Clemson turned up its defense and located its offense after a dreadful start and the Tigers scored a hard fought 66-59 win at the College of Charleston Wednesday night. The Tigers won their third straight game and defeated the Cougars for the 9th time in 10 meetings. Tiger coach Brad Brownell picked up his 175th career win while Charleston coach Bobby Cremins was denied his 550th victory.
A sell out crowd of 5048, many of them wearing orange, packed the Carolina First Arena in downtown Charleston and saw the Cougars bolt to an 11-0 lead. Clemson went nearly five minutes before scoring its first basket but fought back and took its first lead at 19-18 on a Tanner Smith layup with 5:25 to play. But an Andrew Goudelock three with :33 left in the half gave the Cougars a 29-26 lead at the break.
They built their lead to seven early in the second half at 33-26 but Clemson took the lead at 34-33 with 16:14 to play and never trailed the rest of the way. The game was tied at 46 with 11:05 to play before Clemson’s Andre Young hit a free throw and a three pointer for a four point lead.
The Tigers built as much as a six point lead but Charleston had a chance to tie in the final seconds. Goudelock attempted a three pointer with :17 left but it was off the mark. From there Jerai Grant and Devin Booker hit four free throws to seal the win.
After shooting just 30% in the first half, the Tigers warmed up to 58% in the second half. They finished at 42% for the game. After its hot start, Charleston finished at 40%. Clemson also forced 14 turnovers which Clemson converted to 16 points.
Grant, who was 9-9 from the line, led Clemson with 15 points and 10 rebounds. That’s back-to-back double-doubles for Grant who was the ACC player of the week last week. Tanner Smith added 11 points and Booker 10. The Tigers also got 8 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 29 minutes off the bench from Demontez Stitt just nine days after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
Goudelock led led Charleston with 21 points along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Jeremy Simmons added 13 points.
Clemson improves to 8-4 and will play next at home December 27th against Delaware State. Charleston falls to 8-4 and will play at Tennessee December 31st.