Originally created 02/22/98

Clemson suffers OT loss



CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- All season long, following loss after agonizing loss, Jeff Jones and his Virginia basketball players have talked about needing to find a way to do the little things winning teams do.

They finally did it Saturday, getting major contributions from Curtis Staples and Norman Nolan, as always, and key contributions from Donald Hand and Willie Dersch in a 78-74 overtime victory over Clemson.

"It feels really good, finally, for everybody to contribute in their own way and to play the way we played," said Staples, who scored 28 points.

Nolan hit a 12-foot jumper with 49 seconds left in overtime, and Hand scrapped for a key rebound with 28 seconds left, drew a charge from Terrell McIntyre with 10 seconds to go and hit two free throws to close it out.

"I owed that to the coaching staff and to the seniors," said Hand, who had seven points and four assists. "They've been very patient with me."

The most important play of all may have been the charge he drew as McIntyre, who had 28 points, drove toward the hoop with Virginia ahead 76-74. McIntyre had beaten Hand the same way late in regulation for a basket.

"I just wanted to take away his left and make him go right," the freshman said. "He kind of banged into me and I just fell back."

The victory ended an eight-game losing streak for Virginia (11-16, 3-11 Atlantic Coast Conference), their longest since a similar drought in 1974.

And it couldn't have ended without Dersch, either. The sophomore, who has struggled all season after Jones tabbed him the Cavaliers' most complete player, gave Virginia its first lead on a 3-pointer with 2:30 left.

"If I was going to pick any shot to make all year, that would have been it," said Dersch, who had eight points. "It's times like this that make you want to work extra hard, to have this feeling more often."

Staples made six 3-pointers to move into second place on the NCAA career list and Nolan had 24 points and 12 rebounds. Staples has at least three more game to make seven 3s and pass Keith Veney of Lamar and Marshall as the career 3-point leader. Veney finished with 409 last season.

Clemson (15-12, 5-9), which led 41-32 at halftime and by as many as 11 points early in the second half, stayed in front until Colin Ducharme's free throw with 1:27 to play finally drew the Cavaliers even 61-61.

The Tigers were ahead by four points with 21 seconds left until Staples hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Tony Christie missed one of two free throws for Clemson and Staples then went 2-for-3 from the line with 1.9 seconds left.

"They made the plays they had to make," Clemson coach Rick Barnes said. "Free throws is not the reason we lost this game. We lost this game because of ... mental mistakes that we can't be making this time of year."

Barnes seemed particularly annoyed at the hack on Staples as the clock wound down in regulation, giving the 76 percent free-throw shooter a chance to put the Cavaliers in front for the first -- and only time -- all game.

"We knew they were going to Curtis for the 3 or Nolan inside, so we wanted to stay in the box and take some time off the clock," he said. "The last thing we told them was don't foul the 3-point shooter."

The Cavaliers avoided their first nine-game losing streak since 1962.

At halftime, Virginia honored the 1980-81 Cavaliers. That team, featuring Ralph Sampson, senior co-captains Jeff Lamp and Lee Raker and Jones at point guard, was the first to reach the Final Four and finished with a 29-4 record.