March 23, 1999
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – Lenny Brown’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim and ended Xavier’s furious comeback attempt as Clemson held on for a 79-76 victory over the Musketeers in the NIT semifinals on Tuesday night.
Trailing by 24 points with just under 15 minutes to play, Xavier staged one of college basketball’s more amazing rallies. The Muskeeters went from a 61-37 deficit to a 76-73 lead, going ahead on Brown’s 3-pointer with 1:23 left.
The Tigers (20-14) hit six free throws down the stretch – two apiece by Harold Jamison, Tom Wideman and Andrius Jurunas – and then held their breath as Brown’s shot at the buzzer was just off line.
Xavier (24-11) thought it should have gone to the NCAA tournament, but hoped winning the NIT would soothe the hurt.
It wasn’t to be, and now Clemson moves into Thursday night’s championship game against California (21-11), which beat Oregon 85-69 in the earlier semifinal.
The Tigers, under first-year coach Larry Shyatt, are looking for their first postseason title of any kind since winning the Southern Conference 60 years ago.
They nearly lost the chance.
Led by the 3-point shooting of James Posey, Lloyd Price and Gary Lumpkin, the Musketeers went on a 15-0 run to cut the 24-point deficit to 61-52 with 9:42 left.
After Jamison, who finished with 16 points, dunked to make it 63-52, he was called for a technical for handing the ball to Xavier’s Aaron Turner after the play.
Posey, who scored all of his 14 points in the second half, then hit the technicals, Price and Brown hit 3-pointers, and Posey hit two more free throws to close the gap to 73-69 with 3:24 left.
Price hit two free throws and Lumpkin, fouled on a 3-point attempt, hit three free throws to tie it 73-all with 2:08 left.
Brown, who finished with 14 points, hit another 3-pointer, and the Musketeers led 76-73 before the Tigers won it at the line.
Lumpkin led Xavier with 16 points, and Price added 13. Xavier was 14-of-37 from 3-point range.
Terrell McIntyre led Clemson with 20 points, and Tony Christie matched Jamison with 16 points.
In the first half, the Tigers shot 56 pecent from the field in taking a 40-29 halftime lead.
With Clemson trailing 21-15, McIntyre led an 18-1 run that put the Tigers ahead 33-22 lead with 3:25 left in the half. During the run, McIntyre had 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
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