|by David Hood|
“It’s too late. You can’t win it now,” the fan yelled towards the Clemson bench as the final seconds ran off the clock.
In a scene that has become frustratingly familiar over the last month, the Tigers (13-16 overall, 5-12 ACC) held an early lead on an opponent, but managed to lose it late as Boston College (14-15, 6-11) used a 12-0 run during a five-minute stretch late in the game as the Eagles defeated Clemson 68-61 on Senior Night.
The loss was the 8th in the last nine games for the Tigers, and broke a streak of eight consecutive wins for the Tigers on Senior Night. Senior Devin Booker led the Tigers with 19 points and eight rebounds, and fellow senior Milton Jennings added 18 points and seven rebounds. Damarcus Harrison added 11.
Olivier Hanlan led Boston College with 24 points, while Ryan Anderson added 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m obviously disappointed that we didn’t send our seniors out in a better way,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “I thought both those guys competed hard tonight and certainly were very productive. We didn’t make enough three’s again, we haven’t shot the ball well from three the past few games. Besides that, offensively I thought our efficiency was pretty good, but defensively we had a hard time guarding them in the second half.”
Brownell complimented his two seniors on their play on their last night in Littlejohn.
“They’ve played pretty well most of the year, they really have,” Brownell said. “I think Book has played like he did tonight pretty much every night. I think Milt has had some nights where he hasn’t shot it very well, but I thought he did a better job at finishing plays around the basket tonight. Boston College isn’t the biggest team, so I though he did a better job of doing that (getting to the basket).”
After the half, Clemson got a short jumper by Booker and a runner by Demarcus Harrison to build its biggest lead of the half at 43-38 with just over 12 minutes left in the game. The Eagles came back to tie it at 43 apiece, but the Tigers jumped back out front 46-43 on a 3-pointer by Harrison at the 9:49 mark.
The Tigers wouldn’t score again for the next five minutes however, and Eagle freshman Olivier Hanlan began to assert himself as he scored five of Boston College’s next 12 points as the Eagles took a 55-46 lead at the 5:13 mark.
The Tigers began to claw back in the contest - energized by a small but loud Littlejohn crowd – and the Tigers completed a 9-4 run of their own when freshman Adonis Filer went coast-to-coast for a layup that made it 59-55 with 1:26 remaining on the game clock. Filer was fouled on the play, but he missed the foul shot and Booker fouled Boston College’s Ryan Anderson, who made it 60-55 when he hit one of two foul shots.
Booker hit two free throws just a few seconds later that made it 60-57 with 1:20 remaining, but Hanlan continued to terrorize the Tigers when he hit a long jumper with 56.6 seconds remaining that made 62-57.
The Tigers were unable to pull any closer, and the Eagles walked away with the win, which gave the Eagles the season sweep and sent them a game ahead of the Tigers in the ACC standings.
Brownell said the Eagles drew confidence from attacking the basket and going to the free throw line.
“I thought they did a better job of attacking,” Brownell said. “I felt like we got whistled for a few fouls that probably got our guys a bit tentative and I thought some of their free-throws gave them some confidence. All of that combined with some missed layups and missed three point shots that you got to make when teams are packing it in, it makes for a long night.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first half on a couple of quick jumpers by Jennings and a 3-pointer by Jordan Roper. Boston College eventually came back to tie it, but the Tigers regained a seven-point lead at 23-16 when Booker hit a free throw with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
The Eagles eventually came back to tie the score at 27-27, but Booker hit a turnaround jumper with five second remaining to give Clemson a 29-27 lead at intermission.
The Tigers return to action in the season finale this Saturday at Miami in a game that is scheduled to tip off at 2:30 p.m. The ACC Tournament is next week.
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David Hood can be reached at email@example.com