CLEMSON - Having scored just 11 points through better than 17 minutes of play
in the opening half Saturday, Maryland head coach Gary Williams decided there
was only one way to kick-start his stagnant offense.
With pressure defense.
Running as many as four players at Clemson point guard Ed Scott, the
12th-ranked Terrapins forced four turnovers to spark a 13-0 run over a span
of 1:22 to get back in the game, then held the Tigers to just four field
goals in the second half en route to a 52-47 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The loss was Clemson's second straight, third in its last four games and
drops its Atlantic Coast Conference record to 1-4 (11-4 overall).
"I was kicking myself for not starting in the pressure, really," Williams
said. "I thought we came out flat because of that...We thought our drop-back
defense was good enough, and it was, but we couldn't score. Sometimes you
press just to get your offense moving more, and that's what happened."
Once back in the game, Maryland used a 1-2-2 zone to befuddle Clemson's
offense for much of the second half.
The zone - played with a man extended at the top of the key - provided a
double whammy on Scott. Unable to shake free for a 3-pointer and also finding
it near impossible to dribble penetrate the lane, the Tigers offense nearly
Clemson took just 18 shots in the second half, hitting only four. Only an
unusually strong showing from the free throw line (15-of-21 for the half)
kept it in the game.
"We self-inflicted some wounds," said Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt. "Ed
got gobbled up a few times and turned the ball over at critical points in the
game, which cost us. And we've simply got to hit more shots.
"To be quite honest, I think we were just as good, if not better than the
team we played today, collectively. Individually, I felt like we didn't get
Still, though it trailed by nine points (46-37) with as little as 5:29 to go,
Clemson battled back and actually had a chance to tie the game with under 30
seconds to go.
It started with four quick points on a Chris Hobbs free throw and Scott's
3-pointer from the top of the key, cutting the lead to 46-41. A two-for-one
exchange of baskets by the Terps pushed their advantage back to 50-43 with
2:08 to go, but Scott responded with four consecutive free throws in a span
of nine seconds, the last two coming after a steal at the 1:08 mark, slicing
the lead to 50-47.
A nice defensive effort and rebound by Olu Babalola working against
Maryland's John Gilchrist gave Clemson possession again. But Scott missed an
open 3-pointer from the left wing that would have tied the game. Instead, the
ball bounced out of bounds and gave Maryland possession with :22.8 remaining.
Clemson didn't score again the rest of the way.
"I knew it would be a tough game," Williams said. "Clemson plays. This
(Littlejohn) is one of the great homecourts that doesn't get a lot of credit.
I was hoping they would build a new one, but they just renovated."
Drew Nicholas was the only Terrapin to reach double figures, finishing with
14 points. Calvin McCall and Blake added eight each for Maryland (12-4, 5-1),
which has now won three straight and eight of its last nine.
Scott had 16 and Babalola 12 for Clemson.
- Neither team shot well, Maryland finishing at 33.9 percent (19-of-56) and
Clemson 31.8 (14-of-44). The Terps opened the game hitting just 3-of-17 from
the floor, including missing their first eight.
- Maryland held a decided edge on the boards, 39-29, including a 19-11 margin
on the offensive end.
- Clemson had 19 turnovers, but just six in the second half. All five of
Scott's turnovers came in the first half. Maryland gave it away a total of 20
McCall 3-7 1-2 8, Holden 2-7 0-0 4, Randle 1-5 1-4 3, Nicholas 4-13 4-4 14, Blake 2-10 2-2 8, Smith 2-3 0-0 4, Garrison 3-5 1-1 7, Gilchrist 1-3 0-0 2, McCray 0-0 0-0 0, Caner-Medley 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 19-56 9-13 52.
Ford 1-4 1-2 3, Babalola 5-8 2-3 12, Henderson 0-4 0-1 0, Scott 5-15 5-6 16, Christie 2-7 3-4 9, Betko 0-0 0-0 0, Nagys 0-0 0-0 0, Robinson 0-1 0-0 0, Hobbs 1-5 5-6 7. Totals 14-44 16-22 47.
Halftime-Maryland 24-23. 3-Point goals-Maryland 5-20 (Nicholas 2-7, Blake 2-8, McCall 1-3, Holden 0-2), Clemson 3-11 (Christie 2-2, Scott 1-6, Babalola 0-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Maryland 39 (Holden 11), Clemson 29 (Ford, Babalola 7). Assists-Maryland 12 (Nicholas, Blake 3), Clemson 4 (Scott 3). Total fouls-Maryland 22, Clemson 15. A-10,500.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.