Feb. 28, 1998
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Itoro Umoh led a balanced attack with 15 points and No. 16 Clemson earned its third straight berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game with a 63-44 victory over Maryland on Saturday.
Second-seeded Clemson (24-6) shot 57 percent in the first half and wasn’t threatened the rest of the way, winning its eighth game in a row and improving to 22-0 when leading at halftime.
The Tigers, whose lone ACC title came in 1996, will play for No. 2 on Sunday against 10th-ranked North Carolina, a 56-52 winner over eighth-ranked and top-seeded Duke. The Tar Heels defeated Clemson in last year’s ACC championship game and the two split their regular-season series this year, with each team winning on its home floor.
Maryland (15-13) heads the ACC’s all-time list with eight championships, but the Terrapins haven’t won a crown since 1989 and haven’t made the title game since 1993.
Maryland knocked off ninth-ranked North Carolina State in Friday’s semifinals, but the Terrapins didn’t have an answer Saturday for Clemson’s overall sound play. The Lady Tigers shot 52 percent, forced 22 turnovers and had five players score six or more points.
Also scoring in double figures for Clemson were Amy Geren with 13, Nikki Blassingame with 11 and Natasha Anderson with 10.
Sonia Chase had 12 points, the only Maryland player to score in double figures.
The Lady Tigers used a 22-6 run to build a 35-22 lead after a first half in which they got four points or more from five players.
Clemson kept pulling away in the second half, stretching it to 52-31 with 7:45 left when Jeanette Davis fed Blassingame for a layup.
Maryland got no closer than 16 the rest of the way.
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