Clemson’s last-second upset bid comes up short vs. No. 10 Notre Dame

Notre Dame's Jerian Grant (22) drives to the basket while defended by Clemson's Landry Nnoko during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Damarcus Harrison got the shot he, and Clemson, wanted.

The guy who couldn’t miss all night finally missed, and once again Clemson did the same against a highly ranked opponent.

Harrison’s game-winning bid from the right wing at the buzzer wouldn’t go down for the Tigers, who succumbed to No. 10 Notre Dame in a hard-fought 60-58 loss Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

“There was no doubt in my mind if I got it, I was shooting it,” Harrison said. “I got a good look, man, and when it left my hand, I thought it was good. Just came up a little short.”

Harrison rediscovered his shooting stroke, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. The senior guard has been struggling mightily from the floor (24 percent his last seven games,) and 12 of his last 13 3-point tries dating to Jan. 19.

“I just let a couple things get to me. I didn’t take getting benched like I should,” said Harrison, whose starting spot has been assumed by Jordan Roper the past three weeks. “That kind of beat me up and put me in a slump. Coach talked to me today about having a positive attitude and being ready. I think that helped me today.”

Harrison knocked down a trio of triples for the first time since the ACC opener. Hitting a fourth 3-ball for the first time in his career would have sent the announced crowd of 8,965 fans into hysterics.

Clemson (14-10, 6-6 ACC) and Notre Dame (22-4, 10-3) were separated by no more than four points the entire second half.

“Great game,” coach Brad Brownell said. “Difficult outcome.”

Ultimately, it was the heroics of a future NBA player keeping the Tigers from a long-awaited milestone in the Brownell era. Senior guard Jerian Grant’s 22 points paced the Fighting Irish, capitalized by the Player of the Year candidate’s twisting, off-balance jumper with 41.5 seconds remaining for a 60-56 lead, punctuating a late 8-0 run with a Charlotte Hornets scout on hand.

“If he’s not scoring it, he’s making the pass to score it. You saw him at his best,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “And I don’t know if there’s a better player in the country at crunch time to take the big shot.”

The Tigers have now lost all 13 cracks at a team ranked in the Associated Press top 10 in five years under Brownell. After making 10 of its first 16 shots to open up a 23-15 lead, Clemson shot below 43 percent on the evening.

“We’re not as aggressive as we need to be, not as confident as we need to be offensively sometimes in second halves of games,” Brownell said. “I think our guys get a little passive ... we need a go-to guy sometimes.”

That guy was Jaron Blossomgame, for whom the final play was drawn up when the Tigers trailed by two points with the ball and 22 seconds remaining. Blossomgame’s baseline runner was short off the rim, but the Irish lost the handle off the rebound, allowing for Harrison’s better-than-expected look at the walkoff win.

“We flat-out dodged a bullet,” Brey admitted.

There were 12 lead changes and five ties. The teams played one-possession basketball for a nine-minute stretch in the second half.

Blossomgame scored 17 points, his 19th game in double figures this season, and tied his career high with 14 rebounds.

The Tigers are back in action Saturday at noon against visiting Virginia Tech. Fans with a ticket stub will be admitted free of charge to Clemson’s baseball game vs. West Virginia, set for a 2:30 p.m. first pitch.