Late-Game Collapse Again Costs Tigers At Home


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Pity poor Cliff Hammonds.


Given an opportunity to erase a horrible memory from the N.C. State loss back on Jan. 29, the Clemson sophomore failed Wednesday night. Not once, but twice.


Hammonds missed a free throw at the end of regulation that would have put the game away, then missed a layup in the final seconds of overtime that would have erased a one-point deficit. His misfires - along with a Clemson offense that went into hibernation down the stretch - combined to cost the Tigers a 75-74 defeat at the hands of visiting Virginia Tech Wednesday evening.


The game was played before an announced crowd of 8,000 at Littlejohn Coliseum.


"We have two choices," head coach Oliver Purnell said afterwards. "We can lie around the next two days, go to Boston College on Saturday and get our ears pinned. Or we can continue to work hard, try to fix what went wrong and go get a big victory.


"Same thing goes for Cliff. I hope I can catch him before he gets out of here tonight because I need to tell him the same thing. There are only two choices he can make..."


Faced with the same situation as the N.C. State game - Clemson ahead by two with 12.1 seconds to play in regulation - Hammonds missed the first free throw, then hit the second to give his team a 67-64 lead.

But, just as in the State game, the opposition took advantage of the crack left open in the doorway.


Zabian Dowdell hit a 3-pointer in traffic from the top of the key with :03.7 remaining to tie the game at 67-all. Clemson (14-9, 3-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) couldn't get a shot off following a timeout, and the game went to overtime.


Afterwards, Purnell said his philosophy is not to foul in those situations.


"My working philosophy is to get up on their shoetops and challenge the three," he said. "In the other scenario, they hit the first free throw, intentionally miss the second, kick it out and hit a three and you lose. I'd rather play solid defense in that situation because you can't lose (on a 3-point shot)."


Asked if the scenario he laid out had a much narrower chance of actually occurring, Purnell shook his head.


"That's your opinion, and I understand both schools of thought. I'm just sitting here trying to think of the last time I lost a game (playing defense instead of fouling). This year I've lost two."


The Tigers trailed by as many as four points in the early stages of the extra period before back-to-back baskets by Shawan Robinson put Purnell's team ahead by one, 74-73. Robinson's first basket was a long 3-pointer from straight away, his second an off-balance 18-footer just ahead of the shot clock buzzer.


Tech's Coleman Collins was fouled on the other end on a move the basket with exactly 1:00 remaining, yet could hit neither of the two free throws. But Markus Sailes, who checked into the game between the free throws, rebounded the second miss for the Hokies and got the ball in the hands of Dowdell.


Dowdell hit a jumper from the corner with :56.2 left to put Tech (13-10, 3-7) back on top, 75-74.


The Hokies then missed three more free throws (bringing their total to six straight down the stretch) - Gordon misfired on the front end of the one-and-one at :28.2, and Dowdell missed twice at :09.2 - allowing Clemson one final opportunity to claim the victory.


But Hammonds, driving to the basket from the right wing, missed the short runner off the glass. Tip attempts by Akin Akingbala and Robinson just ahead of the final buzzer also missed, and Clemson's losing streak extended to four games.


"Nobody's going to feel sorry for you in this league," Purnell said. "This is a man's league. Nobody felt sorry for Virginia Tech when they were, what, 0-6 in the league? Nobody's going to feel sorry for us now that we've lost four in a row. We just have to keep working."


The unhappy ending overshadowed an evening in which the Tigers did a number of things well.


Purnell's team shot 48 percent from the field (26-of-54), 40 percent (9-of-22) from behind the 3-point arc. More impressive was the work from the free throw line, where Clemson was an uncharacteristic 13-of-15 (86.7 percent).


The Tigers also won the battle of the boards, 35-29.


But the key stat was the turnover column. While Tech gave it away 16 times, Clemson committed 25 turnovers. Four of them down the stretch in regulation, when the Tigers went the final 7:54 without a field goal.


"We've got to take better care of the basketball, plain and simple," said Purnell. "We gave it away too many times tonight, and at the wrong time, and that helped cost us the game."


Jamon Gordon topped Virginia Tech with 21 points and 16 rebounds, both game highs. Dowdell finished with 19, while Collins added 16 and Deron Washington 12.


Robinson's 17 led Clemson, with Akingbala adding 16 and K.C. Rivers 11.


Clemson's game at Boston College Saturday tips off at 8 p.m.


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VISITORS: Virginia Tech 13-10,3-7
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
11 Wynton Witherspoon.. f  1-4    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   1   2  0  1  0  0  19
13 Deron Washington.... f  5-12   1-3    1-2    1  3  4   3  12  2  2  0  3  35
40 A.D. Vassallo....... f  2-4    1-1    0-0    0  3  3   3   5  2  2  0  2  30
01 Zabian Dowdell...... g  7-12   3-5    2-4    0  0  0   4  19  6  5  0  5  44
22 Jamon Gordon........ g  9-15   0-1    3-5    3 13 16   2  21  4  3  1  4  42
24 Markus Sailes.......    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   0  1  1  0  3  17
33 Coleman Collins.....    6-11   0-0    4-8    2  2  4   1  16  2  2  0  4  36
42 Chris Tucker........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
   TEAM................                            1  1
   Totals..............   30-59   5-11  10-19   7 22 29  15  75 17 16  1 21 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-29 44.8%   2nd Half: 14-26 53.8%   OT:  3-4  75.0%   
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-5  40.0%   2nd Half:  2-5  40.0%   OT:  1-1  100 %   
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-6  66.7%   2nd Half:  5-6  83.3%   OT:  1-7  14.3%   

TOTAL FG% Game: 50.8%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% Game: 45.5%   REBS
F Throw % Game: 52.6%    3


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 14-9,3-7
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 K.C. Rivers......... f  4-7    1-3    2-2    1  3  4   3  11  2  1  0  2  33
12 Raymond Sykes....... f  0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  1  1  1   8
33 Akin Akingbala...... c  5-8    0-0    6-7    1 12 13   3  16  0  3  1  0  38
03 Vernon Hamilton..... g  4-11   1-3    0-0    1  2  3   2   9  2  6  0  3  38
25 Cliff Hammonds...... g  3-8    1-4    1-2    1  4  5   1   8  6  5  0  0  37
04 Steve Allen.........    1-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   2  0  1  0  0   7
22 Shawan Robinson.....    5-12   3-8    4-4    1  1  2   2  17  3  3  0  2  27
32 Sam Perry...........    1-3    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   3   2  1  2  2  0  24
42 Julius Powell.......    3-4    3-4    0-0    0  2  2   2   9  1  2  0  0  13
   TEAM................                            2  2             1
   Totals..............   26-54   9-22  13-15   7 28 35  17  74 15 25  4  8 225


TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-28 53.6%   2nd Half:  8-19 42.1%   OT:  3-7  42.9%   
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-10 50.0%   2nd Half:  3-10 30.0%   OT:  1-2  50.0%   
F Throw % 1st Half:  2-2  100 %   2nd Half: 11-13 84.6%   OT:  0-0   0.0% 

TOTAL FG% Game: 48.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% Game: 40.9%   REBS 
F Throw % Game: 86.7%    1

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