And for the third straight game, a missed 3-pointer doomed the Tigers, this time giving Miami the 69-65 victory Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.
Trailing 67-65 with 16.6 seconds left, Tigers guard Cliff Hammonds drove down the left lane and kicked it to a waiting Olu Babalola in the left corner, who jacked up a 3-point shot that barely struck rim.
Shawan Robinson grabbed the rebound and threw up an acrobatic shot from underneath the basket, but he missed as well. Robinson grabbed his own rebound and as he attempted to get from underneath the hoop, he stepped over the baseline to turn it over to Miami with 5.0 seconds left.
The Tigers immediately fouled on the inbounds pass, sending Gary Hamilton, a 40.6 percent free throw shooter, to the line. And of course, he nailed both to give Miami a four-point advantage and win.
"I was set and I was open and it felt good when it left my hands," Babalola said. "I've struggled from the corner my whole career, but I can't pass up a wide-open shot."
Clemson falls to 10-9 overall and 1-6 in the ACC, while the Hurricanes's surprising season continues as they improve to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in the ACC.
Counting the Virginia and Virginia Tech games, the Tigers are just three possessions away from being 4-3 in the conference.
"It seems like it's the same game every time," said forward Sharrod Ford, who led Clemson with 20 points and 15 rebounds, nine of which were offensive. "We just can't pull it out. Our day has got to come soon. It eats me up. It just kills me because of what we could have been."
Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said he had designed the last play to get Robinson open on a back screen for a 3-pointer. Robinson was held scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting.
"It was just a gut feeling," Purnell said. "A couple of shots hadn't gone for us and I felt one might drop."
This also marked the second straight game where the Tigers played well defensively in the first half, only to see the other team light it up in the second half.
The Cavaliers shot 63 percent in the second half in their two-point win and Miami knocked down 54.8 percent of its shots in the second half.
The main culprits for the Hurricanes were Anthony Harris, who scored all 15 of his points in the second frame, and Robert Hite, who scored 12 in the second half. Hite finished with a game-high 21 points.
"They were just spreading us out (in isolation) and would drive into the lane and shoot over top of us," Ford said. "They got really hot."
After a quick 7-2 start in the first half for the Hurricanes, Clemson battled back to eventually take the lead at 11-9 with 14:03 left to play.
However, once again, Miami pushed the lead back up to five points at 18-13 with 8:21 to go, but just like earlier, the Tigers roared back and retook the lead and actually led by as many as six at 30-24 with 48 seconds left in the half, before going into intermission leading 31-27.
Clemson is now 9-3 when leading at the half, while the Hurricanes go to 4-3 when trailing at the half.
Clemson held the lead despite shooting just 36 percent from the field, including a woeful 3-of-13 from 3-point range. The Tigers finished the game 7-of-26 from behind the arc.
The good news for the Tigers was that they were able to corral 10 of those missed shots for offensive rebounds, which led to points.
At the same time, the Hurricanes were forced into committing 10 turnovers. They finished with 14 for the game.
Clemson's next game is Saturday afternoon against N.C. State at Littlejohn Coliseum. Maybe this time the results will finally go the Tigers' way.
"Right there at the end when the shot doesn't go in, it seems like the same bad dream," Purnell said. "Obviously we haven't played poorly on the road in the ACC, but we just don't have anything to show for it."
|Officials:||Emanuel Upton, Larry Rose, Sean Hull|