Clemson (Team USA) moves to 1-0 in pool play
It’s fitting on the day America was celebrating its independence, Team USA saved its fireworks for the final seconds in Thursday’s 69-65 victory over Finland in the first game of the preliminary round of the World University Games in Italy.
With 44 seconds to play, freshman Alex Hemenway completed a four-point play that lifted Clemson (Team USA) to the win. Hemenway drained a three-pointer while being fouled by Finland’s Edon Maxhuni. The three broke a 63-63 tie at the time.
Fellow freshman Al-Amir Dawes sealed the victory by making two free throws with 10 seconds to go. Clemson, who used a 11-0 run late in the fourth to erase a 63-57 deficit and win the game, moves to 1-0 in Pool C and will play Ukraine at 7 a.m. (EST) on Friday in its second game.
The Tigers were led by forward Aamir Simms, who scored a game-high 17 points on 7 of 16 shooting. The junior was also 3-for-4 from the foul line. Hemenway added 10 points and was 2-for-4 from behind the arc, while Alabama transfer Tevin Mack scored 12 points on 5 of 11 shooting, including a big three in the final two minutes that tied the game.
Clemson also got nine points from Dawes, who was 2-for-2 from three-point range.
The Tigers led 21-11 at the end of the first quarter, but Finland, led by Elias Valtonen’s 12 points, scored 25 second-quarter points and trailed just 40-36 at the break.
Team USA hung on to a 49-47 lead heading into the final period, which was a back-and-forth affair over the final 10 minutes.
Hemenway gave Clemson a seven-point lead, 54-47, with three straight free throws with 7:22 to play. However, Finland went on a 16-2 run over the next four minutes to grab a 63-56 lead with 3:02 to play.
But the Tigers answered with a 7-0 run to tie the game. Mack and Simms made baskets to pull them within three points and then Mack drained a three with 1:41 to play to tie the game at 63.
After both teams missed shots on the next three possessions, Clemson grabbed the lead for good when Hemenway was fouled behind the arc as he drained the eventual game-winning trey.