Clemson Tigers Win Inaugural Space Coast Challenge Title 81-70 at Eastern Florida’s Titan Field House
By Eastern Florida State College // November 28, 2020
Clemson scored 23 points in final nine minutes
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Clemson Tigers scored 23 points in the final nine minutes to defeat Purdue University in the inaugural Space Coast Challenge championship game Thursday night at Titan Field House on the Melbourne campus of Eastern Florida State College.
The Tigers (2-0) got 24 points from Aamir Simms, with Nick Honor scoring 17 points and Jonathan Baehre adding 11 points.
Clemson saw its first-half lead dwindle to nothing, but a 12-2 run pushed them back ahead, 58-48, when Al-Amir Dawes sank a jumper with 9:02 to go.
The Tigers remained in control the rest of the way, going up 15 points for their biggest lead (73-58) on a dunk from Clyde Trapp with 2:30 remaining.
The Boilermakers (1-1) played strong for a stretch in the second half — Zach Edey scored for Purdue, pulling his team within 44-41 with 13:59 left in the second half, and Trevion Williams followed with a layup at 13:22; the comeback was complete when Sasha Stefanovic hit a 3-pointer, and it was 46-46 with 12:42 to go.
Clemson used an 11-0 run in the first half to move ahead 24-13, with Simms scoring seven points in that stretch. A Trapp jumper pushed the Tigers ahead 32-19 at 3:58 for their biggest lead in the half.
Purdue did make a late push, getting within 34-27 at the 2:02 mark on a dunk from Aaron Wheeler.
The Boilermakers, who were without guard Eric Hunter Jr. for the second straight game, also had to play without freshman Jaden Ivey, who scored 12 points Wednesday.
Brandon Newman scored 18 points, Zach Edey added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Isaiah Thompson closed with 12 points. Purdue had a 37-24 lead in rebounds.
In the third-place game, Liberty drained a program-record 19 shots from long range in their victory over Mississippi State in the third-place game of the 2020 Space Coast Challenge.
Liberty (1-1) got 23 points from Darius McGhee (who was 7-for-11 from 3-point range) and 17 points from Elijah Cuffee, while the team had just seven turnovers on the night.
The Flames had a 13-1 run in the first four minutes of the second half. Three-pointers from McGhee and Micaiah Abii right out of the gate pushed Liberty up, 46-40; Cuffee drained another long 3 to make it 49-42 with 17:44 to go.
MSU got back within six points, 65-58, on a jumper and ensuing free throw from Abdul Ado at 7:01, but Liberty got some breathing room on a 3-pointer from Chris Parker, making the score 74-66 with 4:12 remaining.
The Bulldogs were led by D.J. Stewart Jr., who tied his career-high with 20 points, and Tolu Smith, who had a career-high 20 points as well to go with seven rebounds. Ado added 14 points. Mississippi State was 15-of-19 from the free-throw line, a night after shooting just 8-for-27.
Liberty hits its first five shots of the game, all 3-pointers, but Mississippi State stayed in touch, with a jumper from Stewart making it 15-15 at the 14:39 mark.
MSU (0-2) took the lead at 29-28 on a steal and layup from Deivon Smith, but McGhee answered with a 3-pointer to make it 31-29 for Liberty with 5:35 remaining.
Keegan McDowell’s 3-pointer, the ninth of the half for the Flames, pushed them up 40-39 with 36 seconds to go, and the Bulldogs took the lead into the break on a jumper from Tolu Smith at the :04 mark, 41-40.
Mississippi State scored just 42 points in all of Wednesday’s game against Clemson.