Tigers Hold Off Terriers, 85-82

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - For one night anyway, Clemson's football team wasn't the only squad on campus who couldn't stop the deep bomb.

Larry Shyatt's basketball Tigers overcame Wofford's 15-for-32 shooting night from behind the 3-point arc, edging the Terriers Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum, 85-82. The outcome wasn't secure until Mike Lenzley's attempted 3-pointer to tie the game missed everything at the buzzer.

"It promises to be an entertaining season," Shyatt said in the postgame press conference. "I thought we played a lot better defensively in the Virgin Islands, but I don't want to take anything away from their three guards. They made us play back on our heels at times, they made some open shots, and they hit some pretty well-contested shots."

The guards - Lenzley, Lee Nixon and Justin Stephens - combined for 63 of Wofford's 82 points, and hit 14 of the Terriers' 15 3-pointers. Their shooting kept Wofford in the game even after Clemson put together a 14-minute second-half run that turned a 52-42 deficit into a 79-71 lead with 1:38 remaining.

But a Stephens (18 points) 3 and a Lenzley (20 points) driving layup, sandwiched around Clemson's Ed Scott hitting one of two free throws, kept Wofford within striking distance, 80-76, with 1:18 to go.

Clemson's Dwon Clifton's free throw eight seconds later made it a five-point lead, but Nixon (25 points) answered with a deep 3-pointer from the wing to make it 81-79 at :55.

Scott followed with a pair of clutch free throws at :24 to push the Tigers ahead 83-79, but Nixon answered again, this time with an off-balance 3-pointer that he banked in from the top of the key to pull his team within 83-82 with :07 remaining.

Clemson's Chey Christie was immediately fouled on the inbound pass, and the freshman guard calmly hit both free throws for an 85-82 lead. Wofford ran quickly into the front court with a chance to tie, but Lenzley's 3-pointer at the buzzer missed everything.

"I thought we played very hard, I thought we played with great poise," said Wofford coach Richard Johnson. "At the seven minute mark or so when they tied it and took the lead, we were out of gas...but our guys kept hanging in there."

Ray Henderson led Clemson with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting. The junior center also had a team-leading 13 rebounds and four blocks. Clifton finished with 14 points, Christie 13 and Scott 11.

Wofford led by as many as 14 points in the first half thanks to an active motion offense and the shooting exploits of Nixon, Stephens and Lenzley.

Running off screens and beating Clemson's double-team to get open shots, the trio combined to score 19 points in a 23-7 run that turned an 18-15 Tigers' lead into a 41-27 deficit with 3:02 left in the half. Nixon and Stephens each hit a pair of 3-pointers during the stretch, while Lenzley added one.

The Terriers shot 55 percent (18-of-33) in the first half, including 8-of-17 (47 percent) from behind the arc.

Clemson was 15-of-32 (47 percent) in the opening half, but hit just 2-of-10 3-point attempts.


- Stockman, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee Friday afternoon, was already rehabbing before Saturday's game.

The sophomore guard could miss up to four weeks, but sources close to the team said they expect Stockman back in time for the Dec. 8 game against South Carolina at Littlejohn Coliseum.

- Clemson won the rebounding battle 43-29, including a 17-11 edge on the offensive boards. The second-chance points help offset the disparity in 3-point shooting.

- Scott's 11 assists are a new single-game high, surpassing the nine he recorded last week in the 'virgin Islands.

- Shyatt's rotation saw nine players log 13 or more minutes, and of the 10 who played only Olu Babalola failed to score.

- Wofford's Kenny Hastie pulled down 13 rebounds, setting a new personal single-game high.

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