Basketball: Tigers Pull Away From Old Dominion In Second Half


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CLEMSON - Clemson overcame another poor shooting effort Sunday afternoon to post a 66-53 win over visiting Old Dominion.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 6,528 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers (3-0) shot just 35.7 percent (25-of-70) for the game, the second straight outing in which Oliver Purnell's club has fallen below the 40 percent mark. But of the 25 made shots, eight of them - in 19 attempts (42 percent) - were from behind the 3-point arc.

And for the second straight game Clemson did extremely well from the free throw line, albeit in limited opportunities (8-of-10).

"That's going to be a really good basketball team," Purnell said of ODU. "They gave us a whale of a game today; they gave us a whale of a game last year. That will be a postseason team. As an alumnus, I'm proud of what their staff is doing with their program."

The game was tight throughout, neither team able to take more than a four-point advantage in the first half. Clemson's share of that lead didn't come until the end of the half, when the Tigers scored the final seven points of the period to lead 34-30 at the break.

Clemson finally began to open some daylight near the midpoint of the second half.

Trailing 42-41, James Mays hit a reverse layup and was fouled on the play with exactly 12:00 remaining in the game. Mays hit the free throw for a 44-42 Tigers' lead, a play which triggered a 17-2 run that ultimately saw Clemson take its largest lead of the day, 60-44.

Trevor Booker had six points to highlight the run, including a sailing, two-handed dunk off a feed from Mays in transition after an Old Dominion turnover.

The Monarchs (2-1) never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

"We finally found that explosiveness in the second half," Purnell said. "James and Trevor really asserted themselves there at the end. It's a sign of growth that we hung in there, despite the fatigue."

The Tigers also shored up defensively in the second half. After allowing ODU to shoot 50 percent (12-of-14) in the first 20 minutes, the Monarchs managed just 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) in the second half.

"I think our team's a little tired from the stretch of three games in six days and all the traveling," said Purnell. "That's why I'm proud of the way they came out in the second half. They really stepped it up, especially on the defensive end.

"Defense is what won it for us. I thought we kind of wore them down toward the end of the game."

Mays led Clemson's offense with 17 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds. K.C. Rivers followed with 16 points, while Booker finished with 11 points and a game-high 12 boards.

Brandon Johnson topped ODU with 13 points, while Gerald Lee added 12.

Clemson is back in action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Presbyterian.

NOTES

- Sam Perry was in street clothes and on a single crutch Sunday, the result of knee surgery he had on Friday. He is expected to miss 2-3 weeks;

- The Tigers outrebounded ODU 43-33, including a commanding 22-8 on the offensive boards;

- The Monarchs blocked 11 Clemson shots, seven by 7-foot-3 center Sam Harris.


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