Tigers Drop Heartbreaker to Panthers in Overtime

Photo Credit to Nathan Gray of the "Orange & White"

Photo Credit to Nathan Gray of the “Orange & White”

Clemson Men’s Basketball Team’s 78-83 overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday can be described in one word: odd. The whole day had an odd feeling to it. It was Senior Day, but the Tigers have no seniors on their team, so only senior managers, mascots, Rally Cats, cheerleaders, and band members were honored. The opponent and game situation had a different feel as well. Clemson was playing for the fifth seed in the ACC Tournament against a team that still feels like an out of conference team to Clemson fans. This was the first time one of the ACC’s newest members had played a men’s basketball game at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers had previously faced all three new schools, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, and Syracuse, but all three of those games took place on the road for the Tigers. Finally, regulation ended on a very unusual play. The Tigers led by 5 points with over 10 seconds remaining in the game. Lamar Patterson of Pitt proceeded to drain a three pointer with three seconds remaining to cut Clemson’s lead to 67-65. The Tigers botched the inbounds play, and the ball was sent rolling as the clock ran. Josh Newkirk proceeded to pick up the loose ball and made a two point shot for the Panthers as the buzzer sounded. Pittsburgh’s benched celebrated while Clemson fans and players believed the shot had not gotten off before the buzzer sounded. The officials went to review in video. Video showed that as the clock struck 0.00 and the red light on the backboard illuminated, the ball was still touching Newkirk’s hand. Basketball rules state that the ball must leave a player’s hand before the clock expires in order for a basket to count. The officials, however, ruled that the arena’s clocks were not synced and another clock on video displayed .001 second left as the ball left Newkirk’s hand. Therefore, the two point basket was given to Pitt, tying the game and sending it to overtime. Once in overtime, the Panthers proceeded to go on a run and get the win. Pitt jumped out on a 7-0 run. The Tigers were able to add some points and bring the game within three as the period entered it’s final minute. A costly foul by Austin Ajukwa sent Pitt to the free throw line, allowing them to extend their lead. Rod Hall hit a clutch three pointer, but Clemson was forced to foul and the Panthers hit their free throws. The Tigers got 24 points from forward KJ McDaniels, 12 points from point guard Rod Hall, and 14 from forward Jaron Blossomgame. Jordan Roper and Austin Ajukwa both came off the bench to add solid performances, putting up 12 and 6 points respectively. The loss sends the Tigers to 10-8 in the ACC and the sixth seed in this week’s ACC tournament. Clemson will get a first round bye on Wednesday, and will then face the winner of Wednesday’s Boston College versus Georgia Tech matchup on Thursday night in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Tigers beat Georgia Tech twice during the regular season and also beat Boston College 62-60 at Boston College’s Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.