Clemson rallies past Miami (OH) behind play of Hemenway

Clemson rallies past Miami (OH) behind play of Hemenway

Basketball

Clemson rallies past Miami (OH) behind play of Hemenway

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Clemson was either going to let another opportunity slip away or change the narrative agaisnt a Miami (OH) team that was picked to finish No. 7 in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll.

Needless to say, they chose the latter option in the team’s 89-76 victory Tuesday night. Clemson used five double-digit scorers to rally past Miami for its second consecutive non-conference victory.

After another lackluster start to the second half of play, something clicked.

The Tigers couldn’t miss in the final 10 minutes of Tuesday’s contest — going on a 40-19 run — and neither could Alex Hemenway. Behind the junior forward’s team-high 17 points, Clemson eventually cruised to a much-needed win.

With just under nine minutes to play, Hemenway took a dribble handoff from Naz Bohannon and rose into an and-1 three.

He flicked the awkward-looking shot through contact and was able to finish off the 4-point play to tie the game at 59.

Then, the switch flipped.

“I think it was just positive momentum,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said postgame. “We really needed a basket and Alex made a tough shot and got fouled. We loosened up a little bit…and then we just executed…I just thought our guys handled the ball, played confidently and made good decisions down the stretch.”

“Really, it was just finding our rhythm,” Hemenway added. “At the beginning, I felt like our rhythm was good. We were just missing our wide-open shots. Once we settled down and once we got into our rhythm and started seeing the ball going in the basket, it was just all smooth from there.”

In the game’s final 20 minutes, Clemson shot 17-of-32 (53.1%) from the field and 8-of-12 (66.7%) from deep. In the first half, the Tigers shot just 48.1% from the field and 41.7 from beyond the arc.

The Tigers made the shots when they counted, even if their offensive play was uneven, to say the least.

Clemson got off to a relatively uncharacteristic start offensively. While Miami was getting shots to fall, the Tigers couldn’t seem to find their footing.

Clemson started to claw back after Miami took a 5-point lead (27-22) with just under five minutes to play in the first frame. That’s when Clemson found some of the offensive prowess it was missing for the game’s first 15 minutes.

Al-Amir Dawes drained shots from beyond the arc on back-to-back possessions. Down the stretch, Dawes, Hemenway and Nick Honor combined for 14 points and provided the necessary jolt for Clemson to take a 1-point lead (36-35) heading into the break.

As the Tigers have done for most of the season, they weren’t able to build off the momentum they created in the first half. For the start of the second half, Clemson came out flat offensively.

Heading into the first media timeout of the second frame, the Redhawks went on a 12-5 run to take a 6-point lead. After the Redhawks held their largest lead of the game at 57-49, Clemson went on a 20-2 run and held Miami without a made field goal for over five minutes of play.

That run catapulted Clemson into the driver’s seat, allowing it to take control of Tuesday’s win.

The Tigers started connecting on all cylinders as a team. They couldn’t miss from beyond the arc and defended Miami aggressively behind the defensive play of both P.J. Hall and Hunter Tyson down low.

“That helped us,” Brownell said of Hall and Tyson’s defensive prowess. “We certainly were a little bit taller and bigger with P.J. I think defensively, the longer it went, we got a little bit better feel and guarded better, put a little bit of pressure on them. Obviously, when we start making shots and get a little rhythm, the game pressure switches a little bit to their team.”

David Collins also had a tough defensive assignment guarding Redhawks guard Dae Dae Grant, but he prevented him from being much of a threat in the second frame.

Grant finished the game with 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting but wasn’t a factor down the stretch of Tuesday’s game. Collins locked him down when his team needed him to step up defensively.

“He hung in there,” Brownell said. “I thought he got better the longer it went. Grant’s a good player, he can really go. The point guard’s a good player, he can go. I thought Al was fantastic defensively in the game. He did a really good job on the point guard and guarded Grant for a little while and did a good job. So, those were key factors.”

Collins finished the game with 14 points, eight boards and six assists.

Clemson defended well, they took care of the ball and they made the necessary shots. It was enough to propel the Tigers to a much-needed win with South Caorlina on the hrozion this Saturday.

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