Mark Freeman scored 19 points while going a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to lift visiting Morehead State to a 68-64 win over top-seeded Clemson on Wednesday night in the first round of NIT.
Alex Gross added a near double-double for the Eagles (22-11) with 16 points and nine rebounds. Kalil Thomas and Drew Thelwell tacked on 11 points apiece.
Chase Hunter led the charge for Clemson (23-11) with 18 points. PJ Hall was also all over the floor for the Tigers, scoring 13 points, grabbing seven boards and swatting away five shots.
Clemson came out of the gates swinging, opening the game with 10-0 run, which featured five points from Hunter Tyson.
After absorbing the Tigers’ initial blow, Morehead State hung around, but did trail by as much as 15 before intermission.
With 2:41 remaining before halftime, the Eagles made their move, using two buckets apiece from Gross and Freeman to compile an 8-0 run and trim the deficit to two, 34-32, by the break.
Hall got off to a hot start in the second, scoring seven points in the first five minutes to help grow the Clemson lead to 46-39.
The Eagles would not go away, though, and a controversial flagrant foul called on Hall with just under 10 minutes to play put Freeman at the charity stripe. Freeman drained both shots to bring Morehead within one with 8:59 to go.
Thelwell knocked down a 3-pointer with 5:53 remaining to tie up the game for the first time since tip-off. He followed up with another triple just over a minute later, giving the Eagles the lead for the first time of the night at 55-54.
Freeman found Gross in the paint for an easy layup, giving Morehead a two-possession advantage with 16 seconds left at 64-60. The Eagles held on for the comeback victory.
Free throws made the difference, with Morehead going 15-for-16 (93.8 percent) and Clemson shooting a poor 8-for-14 (57.1 percent).
Morehead will move on to face the UAB Blazers this weekend in the second round of the tourney.
–Field Level Media