ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) Clemson coach Brad Brownell took responsibility for his team's late timeout gaffe.
Freshman Donte Grantham called for one when the Tigers didn't have any and Jarvis Davis made two late free throws to capitalize and give Gardner-Webb a 72-70 victory in the first round of the Paradise Jam on Friday.
''I think I've seen a loss about every possible way but then this happens,'' Brownell said. ''It's on me. Obviously I thought we had another timeout. On the inbound pass itself, there wasn't a ton of duress. It's unfortunate and right now I can't worry about who we play (Saturday), I have to get our guys' minds right.''
After Davis knocked down the free throws for the Runnin' Bulldogs (2-1), Clemson (1-2) had three shots at the rim but could not convert as the buzzer sounded.
Tyler Strange scored 19 points to lead Gardner-Webb, including a 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left to tie the game and set up more drama in the finish.
Damarcus Harrison scored 19 points to lead Clemson. Rod Hall added 16 points for the Tigers.
''It just came down to our guys I think battling some adversity and never giving up,'' Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft said. ''They continued to believe that they could win the game and that it wasn't out of reach. And they made some plays to get back in the game to give us a chance to win.''
Clemson closed the first half on a 15-4 run capped by Hall's tip-in at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 36-34 lead at the break. Gardner Webb scored 15 straight points earlier in the half.
The Tigers had three 12-point leads in the second half, and took a 62-49 lead on Josh Smith's running hook shot in the lane with 8:15 left. The Runnin' Bulldogs whittled at the lead, however, and Adonis Burbage made a layup with 3:55 left to cut the lead to 63-61.
Strange made a steal and then knocked down two free throws with 33.2 seconds left to bring the Bulldogs within 68-67.
After Hall made two free throws, Strange pump-faked Hall to nail the tying 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds left to set up the dramatic finish.
''My first college game was against Clemson, and I played against (Hall) as a freshman, so I kind of knew how he was,'' Strange said. ''There's really no preparing for that. He's coming at you, he's going to put his shoulder into your chest, and you just have to have physical toughness and mental toughness to withstand it.''
Clemson: The Tigers are making their third appearance in the Paradise Jam, as they went 2-1 in 2001 and 2010. . The finish was reminiscent of the 1993 NCAA finals when Michigan's Chris Webber called a timeout and cost his team a chance for a comeback victory against North Carolina.
Gardner-Webb: Gardner-Webb is 1-9 all-time against the Atlantic Coast Conference. . The Runnin' Bulldogs are making their first Paradise Jam appearance.
Clemson will play in Saturday's Paradise Jam consolation semifinal against Nevada.
Gardner-Webb will play in Sunday's Paradise Jam semifinal against Seton Hall.