Clemson pulls away late for 76-66 win over Bellarmine MBB

Despite what Bellarmine Coach Scott Davenport called “a winning effort,” the Knights fell short in their attempt to knock off a second ACC opponent this season as the host Clemson Tigers pulled away late to post the 76-66 victory in Littlejohn Coliseum on Friday night.

At the “under 8” timeout of the second half, Bellarmine trailed just 52-51, but Clemson went on a 22-8 run to put the game away. Until that point, the largest Tiger lead had been six while the Knights had led by as many as three.

“Give them (Clemson) a lot of a credit,” Davenport said. “We got outscored 24-15 in the last two wars…during that time they hit four threes.”

Davenport added the second half started very well for the Knights. “The first 12 minutes of the second half we really executed well,” he said, “and when they made their run, it was missed layups on our part. The biggest play of the game was when we missed a wide open three and they had a dunk on the other end. That’s a five-point moment and that’s tough to overcome on the road against an ACC opponent.”

Both teams came out firing from long range with the Knights connecting on six of 11 first half treys while the Tigers drained seven of 16. With both teams hot from outside, Clemson used an 8-2 advantage from the free throw line to build a 33-28 halftime lead.

The biggest difference came in the second half when BU made just three of 11 triples, but Clemson maintained its touch from the outside drilling six of 12 from deep. In the end, the 3-point scoring (39-27) more than accounted for the 10-point differential in the final score.

Bellarmine’s Bash Wieland tossed in a career-high 16 points to lead all scorers. The Cincinnati native also claimed five rebounds and dished out a pair of assists. Graduate student Juston Betz also turned in an impressive stat line for the Knights, playing 39 minutes without a turnover while scoring 12 and hauling in a team-high seven rebounds and handing out four assists. Freshman Peter Suder and senior Garrett Tipton added nine points apiece for the Knights, who fell to 2-2 on the season.

Clemson (3-1) had an impressively-balanced attack with five players scoring in double figures, led by Chase Hunter’s 15 points. Hunter Tyson delivered a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards for the Tigers.

Although Clemson held a 27-24 rebounding advantage, Davenport was pleased with his team’s work on the defensive glass. “We did an unbelievable job rebounding the ball, and now we have to go play the best offensive rebounding team maybe I’ve ever seen in my career,” he said, referring to Bellarmine’s upcoming game at Duke.

Davenport added that he thinks the tough competition is a great way to help his team improve. “Is there a better way in the world to get better?” he asked. “We practice tomorrow at Furman-we appreciate them-then we’ll head over and practice at Cameron (Duke’s arena) on Sunday then have walkthrough on Monday.”

Bellarmine, which opened its season with a win over Louisville, will take on its third ACC opponent when they square off with No. 7 Duke at 8:30 on Monday night. The Knights made their Division I debut Dec. 4, 2020 against the Blue Devils, falling 76-54 in Cameron Indoor Arena.

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