Late Rally Not Enough To Lift Tigers Past Boston College

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BOSTON - Another great effort. Another heartbreak.

Clemson rallied from a 14-point deficit and tied Boston College late in the second half, but ran out of gas in the final minute-plus in a 67-61 loss to the No. 17 Eagles. The loss was the Tigers' (14-10, 3-8 ACC) fifth straight.

Boston College (19-5), which started 0-3 in the league, is now 7-4 in conference play.

"You've got to give our guys credit for fighting back, not just fighting back but putting ourselves in position to win the game," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "We got some chances to go up or tie it again, but just couldn't do it...(They're a) good team, we're on the road and we had our chances, but we just didn't get it done."

The Tigers trailed 55-41 with 8:37 left in the game after a layup by BC's Jared Dudley. Akin Akingbala, who finished with a career-high 21 points, then scored four straight points - a put-back on one possession and two free throws on the next - to cut the margin to 10.

And then the fun started.

Vernon Hamilton had back-to-back steals on BC's next two possessions. One led to an Akingbala layup and the other Hamilton finished himself. Cliff Hammonds then made a steal off the following inbound pass and drove for a layup, and suddenly the Tigers were down just four, 55-51.

Sean Marshall stopped the Eagles' bleeding momentarily with a layup at the 5:00 mark, but Akingbala's pair of free throws and another by Hamilton on Clemson's next two possessions shaved the lead to 57-54.

Craig Smith's dunk made it 59-54 Eagles a few moments later, but then K.C. Rivers drained a 3-pointer for the Tigers to slice the lead to 59-57. After Smith missed a layup on the other end for Boston College, Hammonds answered with a basket for the Tigers at the 1:41 mark to tie the game at 59-59.

Dudley put BC back in front 61-59 with a pair of free throws, and then after a timeout his teammate - Sean Williams - made the defensive play of the game.

Hammonds found a crease in the BC defense and drove to the basket from the right wing and appeared to have a game-tying layup. But Williams left his man, slid down the paint and rejected Hammond's shot at the last minute.

Dudley answered with a layup on the other end to put BC back up by four, 63-59, with :49 remaining.

Hammonds then missed another short runner and a 3-pointer on Clemson's next possession.

Dudley hit one-of-two free throws to make it a four point lead with :25 remaining, and the Tigers would get no closer.

"Give Boston College credit," Purnell said. "They were able to find the mismatch and go right to it to put the game away."

The loss overshadowed another outstanding performance by Akingbala.

The senior center, averaging 14.6 points in his previous five games, almost single-handedly kept the Tigers in the game until the stretch run. While he was shooting 6-of-9 from the field, the rest of the team was just 15-of-48 (32 percent).

"Akin's had a real solid year for us and continues to get better," said Purnell. "Our guys did a great job of recognizing he had it going and got the ball to him. That's one of the reasons, along with our trap, we were able to get back in it."

Sean Marshall topped BC with 18 points, while Dudley added 16 and Smith and Louis Hinnant scored 11 each.

K.C. Rivers followed Akingbala with 13 points for the Tigers. Hammonds finished with nine.

Clemson returns home for it's next game, an 8 p.m. matchup Tuesday with Maryland.

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