Terps line up a win

Mary­land makes 10 of 13 free throws in fi­nal two min­utes to win

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY LIZ CLARKE clarkel@wash­post.com

Jor­dan Wil­liams sets team record with 13th straight dou­ble-dou­ble, and U-Md. hits its free throws to edge Clem­son, 79-77.

that its sea­son was head­ing south. Nor did it need to re­view the stats from the 17-point drub­bing, its worst home loss since Com­cast Cen­ter opened in 2002.

But in case the mes­sage was lost on the un­der­class­men, the Ter­rap­ins’ se­niors rose dur­ing a team meet­ing on the eve of Satur­day’s crit­i­cal game against Clem­son and spoke about what it was like to miss the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“We told them about our ex­pe­ri­ence in the NIT our fresh­man year,” se­nior guard Adrian Bowie said. “It’s not a fun ex­pe­ri­ence. We didn’t want to go back.”

The Mary­land men’s bas­ket­ball team didn’t need the smat­ter­ing of boos that broke out dur­ing Thurs­day’s poor per­for­mance against Vir­ginia Tech to re­al­ize

Satur­day af­ter­noon, Mary­land got to work re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing its flag­ging ACC record, edg­ing Clem­son, 79-77, be­fore a ca­pac­ity crowd at Com­cast Cen­ter.

The Ter­rap­ins will need many more vic­to­ries to bol­ster their NCAA tour­na­ment prospects, but this one meant the world to a team whose con­fi­dence and con­fer­ence stand­ing had been bat­tered by losses in three of its first four ACC games.

“We needed to come back and prove to ev­ery­body, es­pe­cially af­ter play­ing bad against Vir­ginia Tech, that we’re a team to be reck­oned with,” said sopho­more cen­ter Jor­dan Wil­liams, who set a Mary­land record by record­ing his 13th con­sec­u­tive dou­ble-dou­ble (16 points, 11 re­bounds).

Three other Ter­rap­ins fin­ished in dou­ble fig­ures: Bowie and fresh­man Ter­rell Stoglin, who had 13 each, and se­nior Cliff Tucker, who scored 15.

Mary­land (12-7, 2-3) let a 13point first-half lead get slashed to one point four times in the sec­ond half, but the Ter­rap­ins sealed the vic­tory in un­likely fashion, hit­ting 10 of 13 at­tempts in the fi­nal two min­utes from the free throw line, where they have strug­gled all sea­son (63.3 per­cent as a team).

Ju­nior co-cap­tain SeanMosley, who was sup­planted in the start­ing lineup for the first time this sea­son, made a pair of foul shots with 12.2 sec­onds re­main­ing to make it a three-point game.

Clem­son’s Devin Booker replied with a rim-rat­tling dunk, and Tucker then stepped to the line with 1.6 sec­onds left and Mary­land up 78-77. As in­structed, he made the first and missed the sec­ond on pur­pose. But in­stead of be­ing re­bounded by Clem­son, as Coach Gary Wil­liams had hoped, the ball rolled out of bounds. That gave Clem­son a bet­ter chance to win at the buzzer, but the Tigers’ des­per­ate heave didn’t fall.

Re­gard­less of the mod­est mar­gin of vic­tory, Wil­liams was pleased with his team’s ef­fi­ciency on of­fense (the Ter­rap­ins shot 50 per­cent) and the clutch free throw shoot­ing.

“I’d say we’re still a lit­tle frag­ile,” Wil­liams con­ceded when asked about his team’s in­abil­ity to put away the Tigers. “We had to find a way to win that game. I knew it wasn’t go­ing to be a 20-point win. Clem­son’s too good.”

Wil­liams de­ployed his fifth dif­fer­ent start­ing lineup of the sea­son, with fresh­man Haukur Pals­son tak­ing Mosley’s spot. Stoglin was re-in­stalled at point guard af­ter com­ing off the bench against Vir­ginia Tech, a re­buke for be­ing late to a team func­tion. Pals­son was called for two fouls and re­placed by Mosley af­ter roughly two min­utes.

Mosley hit the Ter­rap­ins’ first three-pointer to put Mary­land up, 18-13, and a put­back by Jor­dan Wil­liams capped a 13-0 run that gave Mary­land its biggest lead, 26-13.

But Clem­son (13-6, 2-3) took the mo­men­tum into the break, clos­ing the first half with seven unan­swered points. What was once a 13-point Mary­land lead was whit­tled to four, 40-36.

Clem­son’s Jerai Grant, a Bowie na­tive who played at DeMatha, made it a one-point game, 61-60, with 6 min­utes 6 sec­onds re­main­ing, but Mary­land’s Dino Gre­gory, score­less in the first half, came up with two clutch jumpers to make it 65-60.

Clem­son hung in, with An­dre Young and De­mon­tez Stitt hit­ting three-point­ers to make it a onepos­ses­sion game with less than two min­utes re­main­ing.

But Wil­liams, a 51.4 per­cent foul shooter, hit his biggest free throws of the sea­son to put the Ter­rap­ins up, 71-66, at the 1:49 mark, and his team­mates fol­lowed his lead at the line to se­cure the vic­tory.

JOHN MCDONNELL/THE WASHINGTON POST

Cliff Tucker splits his de­fend­ers and is fouled by Clem­son for­ward Bryan Nar­cisse, left. Tucker scored 15 points against the Tigers.

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