Maryland rallies to beat Clemson

Sean Mosley scores a pair of his game-high 20 points in Maryland's comeback win at Comcast Center.
Sean Mosley scores a pair of his game-high 20 points in Maryland's comeback win at Comcast Center. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
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By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stricken for nearly the first 30 minutes of Wednesday night's contest by an erratic offense that was both unfamiliar to and unwelcome by its home crowd, the Maryland men's basketball team eventually surged -- as it has been prone to do at Comcast Center this season -- and prevailed with an 88-79 win over Clemson.

The Terrapins (20-7, 10-3 ACC) spent the first half struggling to keep pace with the Tigers' surprisingly deft three-point marksmanship and the early portion of the second half whittling down Clemson's lead as their offense rounded into its typical, high-octane form.

By the time senior guard Greivis Vasquez stole the ball and flushed a fast break dunk through the rim with just more than six minutes remaining, Maryland had turned a nine-point halftime deficit into a 10-point lead. The Terrapins created that cushion with a 12-0 run that had Clemson players flustered and Maryland fans erupting from their seats.

There were moments early in the second half when it seemed as though the same ailment -- handling the Tigers' pressure defense -- that plagued Maryland when it lost at Clemson (19-8, 7-6) by nine points three weeks ago. On consecutive possessions, sophomore guard Sean Mosley and senior guard Eric Hayes were double-teamed near mid-court. Mosley turned the ball over; Hayes called a timeout less than two minutes into the final half.

But the Terrapins responded with an offensive outburst Comcast Center patrons have come to expect this season. Maryland went on a 13-4 run to cut Clemson's lead to three points.

With just more than 11 minutes remaining, senior forward Landon Milbourne drew a foul on Clemson forward Jerai Grant. It was Grant's fifth foul, the maximum allowed. He took a seat on the bench for the rest of the night.

Milbourne sank both free throws to cut Clemson's lead to two. Moments later, Mosley scored a three-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 65. Mosley finished with a game-high 20 points. Freshman forward Jordan Williams tallied 18 points; Hayes and Vasquez registered 15 each. Vasquez also recorded 13 assists.

There were several oddities in play at the outset of Wednesday night's game. Mosley made his first three shots and had tallied more points before the first media timeout (nine) than he had in any of the previous seven games.

But Mosley proved to be the only Maryland player in any sort of offensive rhythm early on -- a reversal of fortunes for a Terrapins squad that previously had displayed a highly potent attack at Comcast Center during conference play this season. Mosley, who entered the night averaging 6.2 points per game against ACC opponents, finished the first half with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Clemson, on the other hand, made five of its first eight three-point attempts, building an early double-digit lead with a component of the Tigers' game they had not relied upon in quite some time. Clemson entered the night ranked 10th in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (29.3 percent) in ACC play. The Tigers shot 50 percent (8 for 16) from three-point range in the first half.

Clemson swingman David Potter made three of four shots from beyond the arc before the intermission. Between Clemson's marksmanship from outside and the inside muscle provided by Tigers forward Trevor Booker, Maryland at times seemed out-matched early on by a Clemson squad that had won four of its previous five games.

The Terrapins did well to limit Booker offensively when the two teams met Jan. 31. Though Clemson won that night, Booker shot 2 for 16 from the field. On Wednesday, Clemson fed Booker the ball early and often after establishing success along the perimeter. Booker finished the first half with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Eventually, though, Maryland gained some measure of offensive momentum. Hayes became more assertive with the ball in his hands and entered the break having tallied 12 points. The efforts of Hayes and Mosley played a large role in Maryland's ability to trim what at one point was a 15-point Clemson lead.

In recent weeks, it had been Mosley who found other ways to contribute while his offensive production waned. On Wednesday, with Mosley in tune, his teammates were the ones remaining engaged in other manners while they collectively worked to find their rhythm. Vasquez recorded eight assists before scoring a single point.

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