Men's Hoops Edged By Clemson, 78-77
Jan. 18, 2003
By JEFFREY COLLINS
Associated Press Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. – Olu Babalola hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds leftto give Clemson a 78-77 win over Virginia on Saturday.
Babalola got to the line by battling for a rebound with Virginia’s EltonBrown after Edward Scott missed a layup. The possession arrow was pointing tothe Cavaliers, but the referee whistled a foul on Brown.
Babalola, a 68 percent free throw shooter for the year, calmly swished bothshots, causing a roar so loud it shook the newly replaced roof at LittlejohnColiseum.
Virginia (10-5, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) was out of time-outs and hadto push the ball up the floor. Keith Jenifer got a good look at a 3-pointer,but it bounced off the rim as the final second ticked away.
It was the first Atlantic Coast Conference win for Clemson (11-2, 1-2) atits recently renovated arena.
Virginia’s Todd Billet led all scorers with 25 points, going 7-for-11 on3-pointers, including a 3 that gave the Cavilers a 77-76 lead with 33 secondsto go as Babalola guarded him.
But Clemson denied Billet the ball on the Cavaliers’ final possession.
Scott, Clemson’s leading scorer in all but two games this season, was sickand only scored 13 points, and just one point in the second half. But backcourtmate Chey Christie picked up the slack leading the Tigers with 16 points.
And it was Christie’s play that kept Clemson in it at the end. He hit adriving layup to tie the game at 74 with 1:34 left, then took the ball at thetop of the key and drove into the lane, dropping in a hanging jumper from about5 feet out to put the Tigers up 76-74 with 49 seconds to go.
Clemson led for most of the second half, but could never push the advantageto more than five as both teams were hot. Clemson was 31-of-56 (55.4 percent)and Virginia hit 29 of 49 shots (59.2 percent).
Virginia’s biggest lead was nine with 6:52 left in the first half, but theTigers scored on eight straight possessions to get back into the game.
The Tigers needed a win Saturday to build momentum going into a toughstretch that starts with a trip Tuesday to Florida State, where they have lostfour straight, and then home games against Maryland and Wake Forest, both inthe top half of the ACC.
Virginia outrebounded Clemson 28 to 27. It is only the second time theTigers have been beaten on the boards this season.