on December 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Tigers end trip on high note

ANAHEIM, Calif. — With a pair of free throws, Demontez Stitt turned what looked like a mediocre trip, at best, to California into a memorable one for the Clemson basketball team over the weekend.

Draining a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining on Sunday against then-No. 12 Butler, Stitt lifted the Tigers to the 70-69 victory in the last of their three games at the 76 Classic in Anaheim, Calif., in what had been, to that point, a sobering early-season trek.

Having fallen in less-than-flattering fashion on Thanksgiving Day to Texas A&M, with a final score of 69-60, the No. 18 Tigers (6-1) bounced back with an 87-79 victory over Long Beach State on Saturday.

Sunday’s win then marked the Tigers’ first victory over a ranked, non-conference opponent since a 1997 victory over South Carolina.

The Tigers would have likely dropped out of the polls with a loss against Butler to round out the tournament, but after overcoming a 12-point second half deficit against the Bulldogs, Stitt made sure his team would come home on a high note.

“My teammates had all the confidence in the world in me,” Stitt said. “I tried to get to the line by creating floaters. I was confident I could make them.”

And for the usually mild-mannered Oliver Purnell, he couldn’t help but get a little excited with the victory.

“Overall, I am thrilled with the win in what was a great college game,” the Clemson coach said. “We battled guards all night long, but towards the end, we started to make plays.”

And though he finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, Clemson found a way to win with an ailing Trevor Booker, as the Tigers’ star senior was playing through illness.

“I knew he was feeling weak and thought maybe it was because of the three-day tournament,” Purnell said. “He got better as the game went on, but I knew he was feeling a little weak.”

On the strength of their latest win, the Tigers will be back in action Wednesday when they host Illinois at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The game will be broadcast by ESPN at 7:15 p.m. as part of the Big 10 / ACC Challenge.