RALEIGH — A career-high scoring effort by Jaron Blossomgame and exceptional defensive game from Avry Holmes were not enough Saturday as Clemson fell at NC State by a score of 77-74. The Tigers fell to 16-11 overall, 9-6 in the ACC. The Wolfpack improved to 14-13 overall, 4-10 in league play.
Blossomgame scored 33 points, most by a Tiger since Edward Scott had 36 against Florida State in 2002. He was 12-22 from the field and 6-7 at the free throw stripe. Holmes, who guarded the ACC’s top scorer entering the game in Anthony “Cat” Barber, held the junior guard to just 1-12 shooting. Sidy Djitte was the only other Clemson player in double figures with 12 points.
Clemson shot 45 percent overall and committed just one turnover — a school record. The Tigers were outrebounded 43-30, a huge factor in the game. On State’s side, sharpshooter Maverick Rowan led the way with 20 points. Abdul-Malik Abu added a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Caleb Martin started off with the hot hand for the Wolfpack, scoring 10 out of his team’s 12 points at one stretch to give State a 16-14 edge. But Gabe DeVoe answered right back with a deep triple from the top of the key. Clemson would extend its biggest lead to four on a fastbreak dunk by Donte Grantham.
After Blossomgame hit another banked shot in the lane with 1:37 to play, State ended the half on a modest 4-0 run to take a one-point cushion into intermission. Barber scored his first points from the free throw line with 4.9 seconds left.
Grantham and Holmes buried consecutive threes out of halftime to spark the Tigers, but State responded quickly with a 7-0 run to reclaim the lead. Clemson re-took the lead a few minutes later after two quick buckets by Blossomgame, but Rowan initiated a 7-0 run by himself to make it 51-46 in favor of the ‘Pack.
The freshman hit arguably the biggest shot of the game with Clemson trailing 66-63. With DeVoe draped all over him, he rose up and hit another three and State added a bucket a possession later to lead 71-63 with 3:24 left.
The Tigers travel to Atlanta on Tuesday, February 23 to take on Georgia Tech. The two meet at 7 p.m. in McCamish Pavilion in a game televised by the Regional Sports Network.
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