for this game

Clemson ruins Virginia Tech's hopes for share of ACC title

Mar 5, 2007 - 1:47 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- K.C. Rivers and Clemson spoiled Virginia Tech's hopes for a shared title.

Rivers scored 22 points and Cliff Hammonds added 17 as Clemson held on for a 75-74 victory over No. 21 Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season finale for both teams.

By absorbing its second straight loss, Virginia Tech (20-10, 10-6 ACC) missed out on a chance of finishing atop the league standings with Virginia and North Carolina.

"A disappointing game like that cannot take away from what they've accomplished," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "They played their hearts out. Every one of those kids came in as an underdog. In my mind, they're leaving after changing the culture of our program."

Virginia had posted a 69-56 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday. But the Cavaliers (20-9, 11-5) were unable to clinch their first undisputed title as they lost Saturday at Wake Forest.

North Carolina grabbed a share of the conference crown by beating Duke, 86-72, in its regular-season finale later Sunday.

The win was a second straight for Clemson (20-10, 6-10), which concluded a disappointing campaign after beginning the season with a school record-tying 17-0 start.

After opening the conference schedule with three straight wins, the Tigers went on losing streaks of two, three and four games.

"Just look at what has occurred over the course of the season with momentum," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "Look at (North) Carolina. Other than Virginia, everyone has gone through what we went through from one degree to another. It's just really important for us to keep it in perspective and keep hanging in there."

Although Hammonds scored five straight points to forge a 70-66 lead with 3:27 to play, the Tigers saw that cushion disappear as Zabian Dowdell sandwiched a pair of free throws and a layup around a dunk by teammate Coleman Collins, giving the Hokies a 72-70 edge with 2:27 remaining.

That was when leading scorer Rivers took over, hitting his fifth 3-pointer of the game to regain the lead for Clemson with 2:20 to play. He also hit a jumper with 20 seconds remaining after Dowdell put Virginia Tech back up, 74-73, just 27 ticks earlier.

Dowdell, who finished with 25 points, was off the mark on his next shot with 12 seconds to go, giving the Tigers a chance to seal the game.

"You can't ask for a better look," Dowdell said. "I was wide open. It was just one of those things. I thought it was going in."

However, Vernon Hamilton, who was fouled collecting the defensive rebound, failed to add to Clemson's lead, missing the front end of a 1-and-1. Despite the miss, the senior guard came up with the ball after a wild scramble, passing it to Hammonds before he was fouled with 1.9 seconds left.

There was some controversy with Hamilton's rebound as he appeared to travel when he went to the floor, but the officials did not make a call.

"We should have gotten the rebound," Hokies senior guard Jamon Gordon said of Hamilton's miss. "You can't leave the game in the ref's hands like that. You've got to finish it."

"I thought that when you fall down, it's an automatic travel," Greenberg said. "When you fall down and roll over ... most times, it's a travel. That doesn't mean we would have won the game. But we would have liked the chance."

Hammonds also missed a free throw, and the Hokies called a timeout before watching their full-court pass get batted away by James Mays.

Mays and Hamilton scored 11 points apiece for Clemson, which shot 51 percent (28-of-55), including 10-of-19 on 3-pointers.

Gordon finished with 14 points and eight assists and Deron Washington added 11 points and six boards for Virginia Tech, which lost despite holding a 24-5 advantage in bench points and a 29-26 edge on the boards.