Originally created 01/26/03

Tigers struggle against Terps

CLEMSON, S.C. - Olu Babalola is a pretty good player. His emotional, frenetic style is something any coach would love.

But, when Babalola is the best player on your team - and he was for Clemson in Saturday's 52-47 loss to No. 12 Maryland - there are going to be problems.

The Tigers had plenty of them in front of 10,500 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum and the most glaring was a lack of offensive identity.

"Individually, we didn't have it," Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said after his team lost its second straight game and its 10th straight to Maryland.

Babalola had 12 points, and point guard Edward Scott had 12. No other player scored in double figures for the Tigers (11-4, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot a season-low 31.8 percent from the field and mustered just four baskets in the second half.

Still, Clemson had a reasonable shot to win late because the Terrapins (12-4, 5-1) were having their share of offensive problems. Maryland was just 33.9 percent from the field, also a season-low, and its point total was its lowest since a 50-47 win over Massachusetts on Dec. 2, 1995.

The Tigers were down by three after Scott hit two free throws with 1:08 remaining, and they had hope of tying the score after Maryland guard John Gilchrist threw up a wild shot with about 35 seconds remaining.

Scott had an open 3-pointer on the other end - his best look of the day - but his shot from the left wing bounced off the rim and over the backboard, giving possession to Maryland with 22.8 seconds remaining.

Senior point guard Steve Blake made two free throws to give the Terps a 52-47 cushion.

"I got a shot I normally make, and I missed it," said Scott, who tied a season high by committing five turnovers.

Missed shots were the story for the Tigers during an agonizing stretch from late in the first half to late in the second. After Clemson took a 21-9 lead with 4:20 left in the first half, it made just three field goals in the next 20:05.

In that time, Maryland - which won for the 24th time in its past 26 ACC games - took the lead and extended it to as many as nine points.

Terps coach Gary Williams switched to a zone defense early in the second half that disrupted Scott and Clemson's offense. The Tigers' post players, thought to be the team's strength, were a combined 2-of-13 from the field.

Maryland also had a 39-29 advantage on the boards - 19 of them offensive. Forward Tahj Holden led the Terps inside with 11 rebounds. Guard Drew Nicholas (14 points) was the only Maryland player in double figures.

"We're probably one of the few teams that Clemson sees that has the bulk to match them," said Williams, whose team entered the game with the best field-goal percentage defense in Division I.

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larry.williams@augustachronicle.com


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