Gradnigo at the buzzer: CCU upsets Clemson

Clemson basketball coach Brad Brownell, center, presents a plaque to Coastal Carolina coach Cliff Ellis. Ellis was the head coach at Clemson from 1984-94. / (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)

Chris Gradnigo followed his own shot and layed it in at the buzzer to give Coastal Carolina a 60-59 win over Clemson on Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum. Gradnigo hit a three pointer that rattled around and dropped in with one minute to go to cut Clemson's lead to one at 59-58. After a defensive stop, the Chanticleers secured an offensive rebound and called timeout with seven seconds to go. The transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette spun on Brian Narcisse and lofted a shot inside the foul line. Narcisse fell down allowing Gradnigo to lay it in just before the buzzer sounded. Gradnigo finished with 21 points, the same total for guard Anthony Raffa.

The Chanticleers struggled in the first half with eight turnovers as Clemson closed the first half with a 12-4 run to take a 33-25 lead at the half. Andre Young paced the Tigers with 20 points. Coastal improves to 5-0 on the season and its second major win of the non-conference schedule following a 71-63 win over LSU. For Cliff Ellis, it was his first time returning to Clemson as an opposing coach. Brad Brownell presented Ellis with a placque for the man who guided Clemson to three NCAA appearances and an ACC crown between 1984 to 1994.

Post game Quotes

Brad Brownell

Overall thoughts:

This was a very disappointing loss, especially since we had chances tomake stops late in the game and we didn TMt get them when we needed them.We struggled offensively in the second half, and I thought guys wereplaying a little bit tight. We made some silly passes and had turnoversthat led to fast break layups, which got them back in the game. If wedon TMt do that and make them score against our set defense, it TMs hard onthem to make up 12 points. To their credit, they had a couple guys stepup and make plays.

On the final offensive rebound for Coastal Carolina:

The one at the end of the game was hard. Brian did a good jobdefensively and challenged the shot. It TMs hard because you defend theshot, and then when you turn around you TMre so close to the basket.Obviously he didn TMt block out, but when you turn around you can TMt see it.So he slipped by and lays it in. Unfortunately, it bounced back to theone guy on their team that could tip it in.

On tonight TMs defensive effort:

In the first half, we played well defensively. We didn TMt play well thewhole game. We were better defensively in the first half than the secondhalf. In the second half, the field goal percentage is a littlemisleading because of the fast break layups - we can TMt guard those. Butoverall, we didn TMt defend like we needed to. It was not any better [thanthe Charleston game] because we didn TMt get stops late.

Clemson vs. Coastal Carolina, November 22, 2011Postgame Coaches TM Quotes

Coastal Carolina Head Coach Cliff Ellis

Overall thoughts:It was a physical game. Both teams played their hearts out. It was reallyan ACC/SEC-type game, as far as I TMm concerned. There were people bangingon each other the whole game and it was very physical. We were veryfortunate to win. It was anybody TMs ballgame, we just happened to get thebreak at the end. We got the tip-in. If we didn TMt, Clemson would be intheir locker room celebrating. Brad [Brownell] has a lot of young players.He has a team that has seniors and freshmen, so they TMre finding themselvesa little bit right now, just like everyone else. They TMre going to be fine.He TMs going to have a good ball club before it TMs all said and done.

On final play:I drew it up, but I didn TMt set up the second shot. It was just fortunate.We wanted the ball in [Chris Gradnigo] TMs hands and fortunately he was ableto make that extra play. The ball went in and out first, and he justhappened to be there to tip it in. It TMs just one of those things.Sometimes in basketball, you have to be fortunate. We were very fortunatein that situation. Both teams played such a hard fought game.

On emotion of being back in Clemson:This game, to me, is not about beating Clemson. It TMs not. It TMs just agreat win for our team, following the LSU game. With the LSU win and thiswin, it says a lot about our team. It doesn TMt feel any different beatingClemson than it did beating LSU. I have great feelings from Clemson, it isvery dear to my heart. I TMm going to be pulling for Clemson every game fromhere on out; every single game. It TMs a special place. Clemson is going tobe fine. I TMm a huge fan of Brad Brownell. He TMs a great guy and a goodcoach and he TMs going to be fine. It was weird being on the other side ofthe court. But once the game started, I didn TMt think about it. It wasweird early. I TMm very appreciative of Clemson. It TMs near and dear to myheart. I have two daughters and grandchildren and a son-in-law that livehere. I have a lot of friends here.

WPDE Sports Director Rich Chrampanis is host of the Cliff Ellis Show and offers his take on the CCU win

It wasn't a secret around Kimbel Arena. Throughout last year, players and coaches alike talked about how big an impact Chris Gradnigo would have in the 2011-12 season. I think the best news for Coastal fans is that we haven't seen the best of him yet. He had to sit out all of last year and practice time isn't the same as real game situations. After getting two early fouls against LSU and not being a major factor in the win, his numbers weren't sexy against Clemson (8 of 19 from the floor), but when it counted the most, he delivered. He has a natural knack to score and he showed that in crunch time he knows how to deliver.

I continue to be astounded by Jordan Griffin and Jon Pack. I've never seen a player improve as much as Jon Pack has done in the last six months. He played 34 minutes against Clemson and had nine rebounds. Coastal's size and physical play will serve them well in conference play. Jordan Griffin had the most minutes of anyone off the bench (21 minutes). He took one shot and made it. He's an unselfish guy who has embraces his role of playing hard on both ends of the floor.

Next up for Coastal is a trip to Miami to take on Isiah Thomas and Florida International who have a 2-2 record highlighted by a win over George Mason.