The game was a sloppy, defensive back-and-forth affair, but one that Clemson looked to take charge of late in the first half. As both sides struggled to hit shots, the Tigers finally managed to break the back and forth scoring with a triple from Al-Amir Dawes to go up 24-21 with just over two minutes to play in the first half. A defensive stand a buzzer-beating layup put the Tigers into the break up 26-23.
But, the Clemson lead was even more tenuous than the slim margin would’ve shown. Rutgers, a bad 3-point shooting team, hit just 2-12 from deep in the first half. Dawes alone made two of his three attempted triples.
In the second half, the Tigers wilted. They couldn’t hit shots, they turned the ball over more than their opponents and they were dominated on the glass. Dawes didn’t register a second-half point and Nick Honor shot 1-8 on the night. So, when Rutgers went on their run before the U-12 timeout things were dicey.
Down 41-37 points, with the ball and the U-12 break looming the Tigers had a chance to cut the lead to one possession. Instead, Jonathan Baehre skied his cross-court pass out of bounds. Rutgers scored on their next possession to extend the deficit to six.
Despite trailing for most of the game’s stretch run, the Tigers had multiple chances to tie the game up late and could not capitalize. First, with just over 2 minutes to play, on a broken possession the ball found its way to Clyde Trapp who promptly bricked a triple that would’ve put Clemson in the lead. Then, down two points and coming out of a timeout, senior forward Aamir Simms traveled on his drive to the hoop. Ballgame over, season over.
Sadly, Simms and Trapp were the Tigers' two bright spots in the game, but it just wasn’t enough. In any game, it’s hard to overcome inconsistent guard play, an inability to control the glass and a bad turnover by your stud senior in the clutch. In the NCAA Tournament, it’s impossible.