Maryland does know how to play the delay game after all.The Terrapins took the air out of the basketball again today, only this time ran the four corners to near perfection and won an Atlantic Coast Conference game over Clemson, 68-62, in overtime before 12,700 fans at Littlejohn Coliseum.
After a disastrous four-corners performance in a home-court loss to second-ranked Virginia Wednesday night, Maryland redeemed itself today. The Terrapins controlled the ball the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation before missing three shots in the final seven seconds to send the game into overtime tied at 58.
Riding a string of 22 home-court victories, nine of them over ACC foes, the Tigers (2-2 in the ACC and 13-3 overall) never had a chance in the five-minute extra session as Maryland, ranked seventh by UPI and 10th by AP, improved to 4-2 in the ACC, 12-3 overall.
Reggie Jackson, who did not play in the final minutes against Virginia took charge of the four corners today, replacing Dutch Morley at point guard. He played the entire second half, also stopping Clemson guard Chris Dodds, who scored only one basket after intermission.
Albert King, who led all scorers with 22 points, put Maryland ahead to stay, 60-58, on a 16-foot jump shot with 4:10 left in overtime. Clemson's Fred Gilliam, who substituted and scored 16 points, lost the ball when he went up to shoot, changed his mind and attempted a pass that went out of bounds. The Terps took over and Coach Lefty Driesell raised two fingers, his signal for the spread.
The stall lulled at least one Tiger, Dodds, and King zipped a perfect back door pass to Greg Manning for an easy layup and a 62-58 lead with 2:5 to play.
"We run those in practice every day. I know when Albert gets the ball, I look to go back door," said Manning, who, with Ernest Graham, scored 15 points."Clemson was sagging to cut off the middle and I was lucky to get a step on him (Dodds)."
King definitely was looking for Manning.
"He didn't have to tell me where he was. After playing with someone four years, you have a good idea of where to find him," said King. "When you're not hitting the shots, you try to help out in other ways."
A Larry Nance alley-oop basket pulled Clemson to within 62-60 before King executed the same back door maneuver again, Manning again leaving Dodds in his wake for another layup and a 64-60 lead. The 6-foot-10 Nance gave his team a glimmer of hope when he slammed through a Dodds miss to cut the deficit to 64-62 with 1:06 to play.
But the Tigers, unable to get the ball from the now sure-handed Terps, had no choice but to foul.King dropped in a pair of free throws to push his team's lead to 66-62, with 26 seconds to play. After Nance missed two free throws, King buried the Tigers for good with two more from the line 10 seconds later.
"King had a good game and I was pleased with the win," Driesell said. "Coming off the tough loss to Virginia, I didn't know what would happen.The big thing in the second half was our defense. I got on them hard for giving up 42 points and making 16 turnovers in the first half."
In the early going, Maryland and Clemson were locked in the shoot-and-chase game both teams prefer. The Tigers took advantage of Maryland's shoddy passing and 13 points from Gilliam and 10 from Dodds to hold a 42-38 lead at intermission.
Had not the Terps shot 61 percent (16 of 26) from the floor, they would have been further behind. King and Buck Williams scored 10 points each and combined for 11 rebounds to keep Maryland close.
But the second half was a different story, with Jackson orchestrating the four corners and playing marvelous defense on Dodds.
"We just played smarter with our delay game today," said Jackson. "We played good defense and I think I intimidated Dodds in the second half. I think that block I made took him out of the game."
Clemson shot only 29 percent in the second half, unable to do anything against Maryland's triangle-and-two defense.
The Tigers' 6-10 front line of Nance, Bill Ross and Horace Wyatt was held to a combined total of 16 points and 13 rebounds.
"It wasn't a good defense necessarily, but a different one," said Clemson Coach Bill Foster. "We just didn't adjust to it very well. Our downfall was we didn't put the ball in the basket."
After Maryland tied the game at 42, the teams exchanged baskets until a half hook by Wyatt tied the game at 58 to set the stage for the last five minutes.
Maryland worked two minutes off the clock before Williams' pass sailed over Graham's head out of bounds. Clemson worked the ball for a minute before Dodds missed and Williams grabbed the rebound. Maryland then played for one shot, calling a timeout with 12 seconds left. In the final seconds of regulation, King missed from the top of the key, Graham missed on a followup bank shot and Manning's desperation shot was not close.