Former Deerfield star and Clemson senior Andre Young is lifted up by his teammates after leading his team to victory Saturday.
CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson guard Andre Young was not sure if he’s ever been carried off the court before. Then again, Young hasn’t had too many moments like this.
The former Deerfield-Windsor star hit the game-tying and go-ahead 3-pointers in the final two minutes of Clemson’s 72-69 overtime victory against North Carolina State on Saturday. The Tigers fell behind in the extra period 69-66 before Young — the team’s top 3-point shooter who was 0 of 5 from behind the arc before he knocked down his two big shots.
His first was a straightaway shot that tied the game at 69-all with 1:13 left. The other took place from the left corner with the shot clock running down and 11.5 seconds left in the game.
Young also grabbed the rebound after C.J. Leslie was off the mark on the Wolfpack’s final attempt to tie. Soon after, Young was picked up by freshman forward Bernard Sullivan as the cheers went up in Littlejohn Coliseum.
“I told him not to do it,” Young, the 5-foot-9 senior, said of Sullivan. “But those freshmen, they don’t listen.”
Young did not hesitate despite his cold-shooting performance up until then, a confidence he says has been gained from handling critical moments throughout his career.
“As one of the leaders of the team, I wanted to take that shot,” Young said. “Tanner found me and I knocked it down.”
C.J. Leslie was off the mark on a 3-point try on North Carolina State’s attempt to force a second overtime on the final possession.
Lorenzo Brown and Leslie had 18 points each to lead the Wolfpack (18-11, 7-7), who lost their fourth straight.
It looked like Brown would be the star of the overtime as he had three close-in baskets to build a 69-66 lead with 2:24 left. The Wolfpack had the chance to extend their lead, but C.J. Williams missed an open three before Young’s first long-range basket.
Brown had the chance to put North Carolina State in front with 43.7 seconds to go, yet the 76-percent foul shooter missed two free throws that led to Young’s dramatic basket.
“The missed free throws that we had didn’t cost us the game,” said North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried. “There were just too many plays in a 45 minute basketball game to point to one or two.”
North Carolina State finished 5 of 13 from the foul line, including 1 of 4 in overtime.
Both teams had chances to win before overtime. Leslie, who scored 9 of his team’s final 13 points of regulation, two foul shots put the Wolfpack ahead 62-60 before Tanner Smith tied it with two free throws of his own with 4.1 seconds left.
Milton Jennings led the Tigers with 17 points before fouling out in overtime. Smith added 15 while Devin Booker had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Williams had 16 points for North Carolina State.
Clemson had found its stride of late and the Tigers continued their solid play in the opening half against the Wolfpack.
And the Tigers got plenty of help from their freshmen class. T.J. Sapp hit a 3-pointer to give them their first lead, Rod Hall drove the lane through two defenders for a layup and K.J. McDaniels soared high above the rim to slam down a Young missed shot during the Tigers’ 6-0 run that put them on top 31-26.
It looked as if Clemson would let that edge slip away before halftime as Williams and Brown struck for outside shots. But Jennings closed the period with a long 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left that sent the Tigers into the locker room ahead 34-30.
Not that the Wolfpack played poorly. They shot nearly 54 percent for the period (14 of 26) as a team while Williams and Brown kept North Carolina State in it, making a combined 8 of 14 shots for 18 points and eight rebounds. The Wolfpack finished 30 of 60 from the field.
North Carolina State came in off a three-game losing streak, its longest of coach Mike Gottfried’s first season. However, the losses came to the ACC’s top three teams in Duke, North Carolina and Florida State. The Wolfpack looked poised to come out on top of a hard-fought game against the Tigers. Instead, they lost to Clemson for the seventh time in the last nine meetings.
Gottfried tried to boost his team’s confidence entering the final week of the regular season. “I told them to keep their head up,” he said. “I said if you give us that kind of effort every night then eventually things will turn good for us.”
Clemson celebrated its 100 years of basketball at halftime with several of the program’s greatest players back to take the court to the cheers of those at Littlejohn. Those returning included former NBA standout Elden Campbell, the Tigers all-time scoring leader, and current Washington Wizards starter Trevor Booker.
Also in the crowd was Clemson’s Joe Ayoob, who played from 1964-67 and hit the winning basket in the Tigers last OT win at Littlejohn over North Carolina State, a 76-74 win on Feb. 19, 1966.
Tigers coach Brad Brownell thinks his team is finally developing the way he’d hoped it would at the season’s start. Clemson is split between six freshmen and six upperclassmen. Brownell said it was the leadership of players like Young and Smith that have kept his younger players working hard every time out.
“I really like the way we’ve been able to hang in there,” Brownell said.