Tigers lose 15-point lead, heartbreaker at Maryland


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For almost 20 minutes, the Clemson Tigers could do no wrong, and were well on their way to accomplishing what has been almost impossible this season – earning a key ACC road win and beating the Maryland Terrapins on their home floor.

Midway through the first half, the Tigers were up on the Terrapins by 15 points and were threatening to end Maryland’s 7-0 record at home in Atlantic Coast Conference games, bombing away from the outside and using their pressure defense to create turnovers and force bad shots.

But Clemson's success did not endure and led by guard Sean Mosley (20 points) and Greivis Vasquez had 15 points and 13 assists, and the Terrapins rallied from that 15-point deficit to win 88-79 on Wednesday night, dropping the Tigers to 19-8, 7-6.

The Tigers appeared poised to win a fourth straight ACC game for the first time since 1996-97 before Maryland took control with a 12-0 run.

The Terps trailed 67-65 before Jordan Williams made two free throws. Vasquez then drilled a 3-pointer with 7:24 to go, putting Maryland up 70-67 for Maryland’s first lead since they led 14-12 early in the first half.

Williams followed with a layup, getting the crowd into the game, and Eric Hayes added a 3-pointer before Vasquez capped the spree with a steal and a dunk to make it 77-67 with 6:04 remaining.
The Tigers were unable to come back, Clemson guard Andre Young said it was simply a case of the Tigers losing their defensive edge.

"We didn't put enough emphasis on defense and getting in our press and we didn't make the stops we needed toward the end," Young said. "I really can't speak for everybody, but we just have to be better."

The Tigers led 48-39 at halftime, and only Villanova, with 49 points in December, scored more points against the Terrapins in one half.

Mosley accounted for Maryland's first seven points, but Clemson went 10-for-17 in the first nine minutes and reeled off 15 straight points to take a 27-14 lead.

After Landon Milbourne ended the Terrapins' drought with a short jumper, successive layups by Trevor Booker upped the Tiger margin to 15 points.

Hayes then scored seven points in a 15-5 spurt that made it 36-31. It was 42-35 before Young and Noel Johnson both connected from beyond the arc, giving Clemson the nine-point lead at the half.

Booker had 11 points in the first half, but finished with only 13. Point guard Demontez Stitt led the Tigers with 15 points, while Young and David Potter each also chipped in 13.

Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell agreed with Young, and said the Tigers lost their defensive edge.

“Defensively we didn't play well enough to win,” Purnell said. “Obviously offensively we had a good first half and I thought that certainly the pace was what we liked and that's probably why we scored so well. Defensively, we stopped getting into our pressure; as a result we started to give them some easy baskets.

“[In the] second half we had a chance to really pad our lead. We got out of our pressure and went to a man [defense]. We didn't guard the ball the way we were supposed to consistently. Maryland scored fifty points or something like that in the second half. We've got to dig in and guard at that point. The guys were prepared and ready, but throughout the course of the game we didn't maintain our defensive mindset. We got a little bit, I don't want to say happy on offense, but we're involved mentally with our offense and defense. As a result, we didn't beat a really good team on their home court."

Booker also bemoaned the lack of defensive intensity in the second half.

"We had a strong first half offensively, but defensively, we didn't play that well,” Booker said. “We played poor defense in the second half and they capitalized on it. A couple of times we didn't get back in the press but a couple of times we did get back, they broke it and scored on it. They were prepared for it but sometimes we didn't get into it. They were ready for it."

Next up for the Tigers is another key ACC road game, this time at Florida St. on Sunday at 5:30.

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