Tigers Lose Overtime Heart-Breaker to Cavaliers

by - Senior Writer -

The Clemson Tigers have gotten used to bouncing back from disappointing losses thus far in the ACC season, and Sunday’s game at Virginia will have to be added to the list.

The Cavaliers came into Sunday’s league game having lost eight in a row and had won just one game in ACC play, but forced 21 Clemson turnovers, including on three of Clemson’s first four overtime possessions, and came away with an 85-81 overtime win in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday afternoon.

Sylven Landesberg, who led all scorers with 23 points, had a driving basket with 13.4 seconds left in regulation tied it at 74, and he had the last six points in a 10-5 run to start the extra period for the Cavaliers (8-13, 2-8 Atlantic Coast Conference), who avenged a 31-point loss at home last season to Clemson (20-4, 6-4).

The game gives Clemson a 1-1 record on the week, but the perception of losing to the worst team in the ACC may drop the 11th-ranked Tigers several spots in the polls.

“I am very disappointed that we did not come out guns blazing,” Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. “Every game is a battle. Give Virginia credit, and this is a tough road loss, but certainly nor an upset in my mind.”

The Tigers trailed throughout much of the first half, and the Cavaliers held a 33-25 lead at intermission. The Tigers, as they have done recently on the road, came out hot to start the second half, going on a 14-0 run to take a 39-33 lead. Terrence Oglesby hit two 3-pointers and K.C. Rivers had another during the run as Clemson attempted to reverse their long-range misfortune from the first half, when they missed 10 of 11 from beyond the arc.

“In the second half, we came out playing Clemson basketball,” Purnell said. “In the first half, they gave us fits on the offensive glass, and we made some changes. But give them credit - they didn’t fold.”

The Cavaliers then went on a 11-3 run that put them ahead 46-42, and led by as many as five points, but the Tigers would rally each time, finally going back ahead at 73-72 as Rivers hit a leaning 10-footer just left of the lane with 1:20 left. Rivers then hit one free throw for a two-point Clemson lead with 29.4 seconds left on the clock, but Landesberg then had his drive for the tie.

Clemson had a shot for the win at the end of regulation, but missed three shots in the last six seconds that forced the overtime period.

In overtime, Clemson continued their turnover problems from the first half, but Oglesby, who had 17 points on five 3-pointers, put the Tigers back ahead at 77-74 on his fifth and final 3-pointer, but Virginia took advantage of a Clemson miss and another turnover to go up 80-77.

Trevor Booker closed Clemson to within one at 80-79 when he hit two free throws, but Landesberg hit shots on Virginia’s next two possessions, and the Tigers got no closer than three points the rest of the way. Oglesby had a shot to tie with eight seconds remaining, but his 3-pointer was well of the mark, and Virginia was able to close out the upset win.

The Tigers had 21 turnovers, and Purnell said that was one of the main culprits in the loss.

“They (Virginia) did a good job of executing and getting the ball to the guy they wanted to get it to,” Purnell said. “We had 13 turnovers in the first half and they weren’t even pressing. In overtime, we turned it over three or four times there, and they got lay-ups, and that is not something you can recover from.”

In addition to Oglesby’s 17 points, the Tigers got 16 points from Trevor Booker and 15 from Rivers. Mike Scott added 18 points for the Cavaliers, 15 in the second half, while Sammy Zeglinski had 15 points.

"Now we just have to bounce back from this one at home against a pretty good Maryland team that is playing well right now," Purnell said. "They played on Saturday, so they will have an extra day of rest, but they do have to travel. We are going to talk about this game, and how we need it."

The game against the Terrapins will be Tuesday night at 7:30 in Littlejohn Coliseum.

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