- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2005

CLEMSON, S.C. — A letdown turned into a meltdown last night for No.22 Maryland. The Terrapins lost to the ACC’s worst team after beating two straight ranked opponents.

Clemson ended a 13-game losing streak to Maryland with an 88-73 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum. Tigers center Sharrod Ford dominated the Terps inside with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Maryland responded only with fouls.

“We couldn’t stop [Ford],” Terps coach Gary Williams said. “We didn’t have any answer for him.”

Clemson (11-10, 2-7 ACC) snapped a five-game losing streak by simply outhustling the Terps. Maryland (13-6, 4-4) looked more like the team overwhelmed by N.C. State at Comcast Center on Jan.23 than the resurgent unit that beat then-No. 2 Duke and then-No. 22 Georgia Tech in a five-day span.

“We gave [Clemson] confidence from the jump,” guard John Gilchrist said. “We let them feel like they could play with us.”

Maryland, which had not lost to Clemson since 1997, travels to Miami on Saturday suddenly needing a victory to avoid falling back out of the polls and onto the NCAA tournament bubble.

Maryland has been overwhelmed by some of the ACC’s top big men this season, and the underrated Ford, from Gwynn Park High, schooled the Terps. The senior’s short hook proved unstoppable and left Maryland’s frontcourt in foul trouble.

“[Ford] has monster nights every night, but they usually don’t win,” Terps forward Nik Caner-Medley said. “He doesn’t get the attention because they don’t win.”

Forward Travis Garrison, who had a career-high 15 rebounds two nights ago against the Yellow Jackets, fouled out with 8:23 remaining. Forward Ekene Ibekwe joined him on the bench with his fifth foul just 20 seconds later. Center Will Bowers was forced to return after sitting 27 minutes with three fouls he drew in the first five minutes.

“It seemed like they scored a lot of their second shots, and we didn’t,” Williams said. “You get behind, you have to scramble. When scrambling, you’re going to foul more.”

Clemson sensed a blowout once Ibekwe left. The Tigers kept running and beating the Terps inside. Four Tigers finished in double figures.

Meanwhile, Caner-Medley was silenced for the first 24 minutes and held to just nine points after leading the Terps in scoring in six straight games and earning ESPN national player of the week. Gilchrist led Maryland with 18 points.

Maryland never generated any consistent offense because of turnovers and Clemson’s domination on the boards. The Terps tried to overcome a poor shooting night with their press defense, but it didn’t work for long. Given Maryland’s foul woes, it couldn’t afford to use the high-intensity scheme too long.

The Terps managed a short scoring burst midway through the first half but otherwise were held in check by the Tigers’ aggressive man defense, which forced 16 turnovers. Maryland even went to a three-guard lineup with two ballhandlers during its brief first-half run, then again in the second half after Garrison and Ibekwe fouled out.

Maryland was dismal in the first half other than a 21-9 run that gave it a brief 23-22 edge.

Clemson opened with a 13-2 lead before the Terps rallied, then scored 11 straight points after falling behind. Maryland went without a field goal over the final 6:32 to trail 45-29 at halftime.

The second half didn’t open much better for Maryland. The press defense was beaten early, and sloppy play finally caused Williams to call a timeout to reset a play. Clemson just kept pounding the ball inside and built a 20-point lead midway through the half. Maryland’s last gasp was a 10-4 run that got the Terps within 68-52 with 8:34 remaining before Garrison and Ibekwe left the game.

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