- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2004

CLEMSON, S.C. — A strong effort by the bench and on defense helped Maryland outlast Clemson last night after early foul troubles nearly resulted in an upset loss.

Maryland beat Clemson 65-52 before an announced 8,000 at Littlejohn Coliseum after a second-half defensive surge led by reserve center Hassan Fofana and forward Travis Garrison. Clemson scored only five points in an 11-minute span, and Maryland rallied from a seven-point deficit to a 59-46 lead.

The Terps (11-5, 2-3) ended a two-game losing streak, while Clemson (8-9, 1-5) remained in the conference cellar. Maryland plays at Wake Forest (11-4, 2-3) on Thursday. The Demon Deacons have lost four straight.

“This was a huge game,” guard John Gilchrist said. “We needed this for our confidence.”

Gilchrist led Maryland with 15 points, with forward Nik Caner-Medley adding 13 and guard Chris McCray and Garrison getting 11 each.

A series of streaks by different Terps in the second half fueled the victory. Garrison scored seven straight, including four free throws, to break open the game. McCray scored seven straight, while Gilchrist added six consecutive points.

Maryland’s bench produced 18 points and 11 rebounds to overcome early foul troubles by center Jamar Smith, forward Ekene Ibekwe and Gilchrist. Coach Gary Williams was forced to try an unusual lineup that included Fofana and guard Mike Jones.

Fofana had seen only one minute in the previous three games and no more than seven in the previous 10, but he played 15 against Clemson with four points, two rebounds and one block. Fofana energized Maryland by scoring after his own miss to give the Terps a 19-18 lead with 8:05 remaining in the first half. But most of his contributions, particulary in the second half, didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

“I’m a little tired, but I know it’s the ACC and I need to help,” Fofana said. “I’m just going in to hustle, get the loose ball, rebound and play defense.”

Said Williams: “Fofana toughened us up a bit.”

Neither team scored two straight baskets in an opening 14 minutes that included 13 lead changes and five ties.

“It makes you go harder,” Gilchrist said. “You focus on stopping them. It was like checkers with everybody making quick moves.”

Maryland finally had a 6-0 run that gave it a 27-23 lead, marking the first time either team scored two straight baskets. Clemson countered with its first consecutive baskets for a 27-27 tie with 2:27 remaining in the first half, prompting Williams to call a timeout after Tigers guard Vernon Hamilton split the Terps defense for an easy layup. Williams re-inserted Fofana and Jones because he was upset about the Terps’ effort, but the Tigers got two dunks in the final minute to lead 31-27 at halftime.

The second half’s pace was completely different; both teams played frantically in the opening minutes. There were more contested loose balls and second chances under the basket for both teams as each tried to make a decisive run.

Maryland was the team to do it, using its press for two easy baskets in an 11-3 run. Maryland soon followed with another a 15-0 streak, giving the Terps a 53-43 lead with 7:35 remaining. After a Tigers 3-pointer, the Terps followed with a 10-0 run, and Clemson never challenged again.

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