Clemson’s men’s basketball team had a chance to pick up its third Quadrant 2 victory Wednesday.
The only thing the Tigers left Indiana with, though, was their most lopsided loss of the season.
An uncharacteristically poor shooting night inside Purcell Pavilion doomed Clemson, which fell 72-56 to Notre Dame in South Bend. PJ Hall led the Tigers (10-6, 2-3 ACC) with 14 points while Hunter Tyson had 12 points, but baskets were few and far between during one of Clemson’s worst shooting performances of the season.
“Just a tough day,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
The Tigers started it as the third-best 3-point shooting team in Division I basketball (40.9%) but set a season-low for 3-point field-goal percentage (19.4%). Clemson’s six made 3s were their fourth-fewest of the season despite getting up a season-high 32 attempts from beyond the arc.
Brownell lamented some of the Tigers’ shot selection afterward, adding his team “probably fell in love with the 3-point shot a little bit too much” on a night when Clemson trailed big early.
“There were some quick ones,” Brownell said. “It’s not like I thought we shot a bunch of contested 3s, but they were just a little quick and maybe not quite in rhythm. Just not good enough sometimes. I just think sometimes you just try to shoot your way out of things, especially when that’s your go-to.”
Hall, coming off a 20-point performance at North Carolina State over the weekend, finished 7 of 16 from the floor to reach double figures for the 15th straight game. Tyson made four of his eight shots, but offense was hard to come by outside of Clemson’s frontcourt in a game the Tigers trailed by 17 at the half and as many as 23 in the final 20 minutes.
Starting guards Nick Honor, Al-Amir Dawes and David Collins combined for just 11 points on 3 of 19 shooting. Meanwhile, the Tigers had few answers for Notre Dame’s backcourt tandem of Dane Goodwin and Blake Wesley, who poured in 21 and 20 points, respectively, to pace the Fighting Irish (10-5, 4-1).
Alex Hemenway added eight points off the bench for the Tigers, who dropped to 2-4 in Quad 1 and 2 games.
“We’re not going to win when our perimeter is struggling like they did tonight,” Brownell said. “That’s asking too much of other guys.”
Clemson dug itself a major hole by going ice cold in the opening 20 minutes, leading to a 39-22 halftime deficit. The Tigers missed three of their first 13 shots and later missed 10 straight shots, going more than 7 minutes without a basket at one point.
The Tigers started 2 of 16 from 3-point range, but Notre Dame didn’t have nearly as much trouble finding its touch. The Fighting Irish made seven of their first eight shots, setting the tone for a 45% shooting night that saw Notre Dame sink 10 of its 26 3s in its sixth straight win.
“Notre Dame is playing extremely well,” Brownell said. “Hard to guard their pace of play, and their confidence right now is supremely high. I just felt like we were a step slow defensively for a majority of the first half and really couldn’t get them under control.”
Clemson will look to bounce back when it returns to Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday against Boston College.
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