Tigers fall to Gamecocks

CLEMSON - Anthony Gill hit a tie breaking 3-pionter with 1:19 left and Bruce Ellington and Malik Cooke had clinching free throws to lift South Carolina to a 58-55 victory over Clemson on Sunday.

Andre Young had a desperation 3-pointer fall short of the basket as time ran out for the Tigers (4-3), at what had been a festive Littlejohn Coliseum. The crowd celebrated the school's Atlantic Coast Conference football champions at halftime and hoped to cap things off with a basketball win in the state rivalry.

But the Gamecocks (3-5) rallied from seven points down in the second half to win their second straight over Clemson. Gill had 10 points to lead South Carolina, none bigger than his long distance shot from the right center with it tied at 49.

Damontre Harris also had 10 points for the Gamecocks.

Ellington, South Carolina's two-sport standout, had nine points in his second game back since the end of football season. He hit two foul shots with 13 seconds left to restore the Gamecocks' three-point cushion.

Clemson's Tanner Smith was fouled trying a 3 with 7.5 seconds left but missed the middle of his three foul shots to keep South Carolina ahead by one. That's when Cooke hit two final foul shots with 6.7 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the Gamecocks.

Smith led the Tigers with 12 points.

South Carolina kept its good vibes flowing in the latest rivalry game. A year ago, Ellington scored 14 points as the Gamecocks broke a six-game losing streak to Clemson with a 64-60 victory. Ellington kept it going, against the Tigers, eight days ago -- this time on the football field -- with a 49-yard touchdown as part of South Carolina's 34-13 win.

It was Clemson and senior, 7-foot-2 center Catalin Baciu who played the biggest early on. He had a bucket and a three-point play midway through the first half as part of the Tigers 7-0 run to move them in front. He added another bucket and a foul shot to finish with eight points, tied for the team high with Young and Smith.

Ellington continued to search for his shooting touch. He went 3 of 11 in a loss to Providence last Thursday night and was 1 of 4 in the opening half Sunday. Ellington, though, rattled in a 3-pointer with less than two seconds left that cut Clemson's lead to 35-28 at the break.

Not that it would've mattered to the crowd at Littlejohn if Ellington had made 10 3s, as most were still giddy about the Tigers' ACC football championship win over Virginia Tech on Saturday night.

Coach Dabo Swinney led the players out to midcourt at halftime, where athletic director Terry Don Phillips presented them with the league's championship trophy as the cheers rang out.

Swinney said before the season he wrote a 20 and 30 on the board to his players. He explained it had been 20 years since the team's last ACC crown in 1991 and 30 years since its last trip to the Orange Bowl, where the league champion goes for the postseason. "And that's too long," Swinney said.

Both waits are over.

The Tigers, though, will continue waiting out their next major rivalry win. They've lost the last three football games, two basketball games and have watch the Gamecocks baseball team win the past two College World Series crowns.

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