Clemson comeback bid falls short at NCAA Tournament

Clemson comeback bid falls short at NCAA Tournament
Rutgers guard Paul Mulcahy, right, defends Clemson guard Clyde Trapp (0) during the second half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Friday, March 19, 2021. (Source: AP Photo/Paul Sancya/AP)

Indianapolis, IN (WIS) - Clemson’s season ends with a first-round exit from the NCAA Tournament.

Rutgers eliminates the Tigers from the dance in Indianapolis, 60-56 on Friday night. The Tigers senior duo of Aamir Simms and Clyde Trapp combined for 29 points. Simms finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Both were team-highs.

Early on, Clemson looked to establish Aamir Simms inside. He took four of the first seven shots for the Tigers. He connected on one, added a pair from the free-throw line in a back-and-forth first six minutes.

Clemson trailed by a slim margin by the third media timeout, 15-14 with 7:47 to play. The Tigers kept it close despite a dismal 26% shooting from the field. Clemson capitalized off of mistakes. Rutgers turned it over six times in the first 12-plus minutes. And the Tigers executed in transition, collecting 11 fastbreak points.

Former Lower Richland standout, Clyde Trapp, sent Clemson into the locker room with momentum. Off a Rutgers miss, Trapp went coast to coast in a matter of seconds to lay home two at the buzzer. The Tigers carried a 26-23 lead at the break.

Trapp maintained that edge. He caught fire to start the second half scoring the team’s first nine points. The triple at the 16:15 mark lifted Clemson to a 33-29 advantage.

He added a pair at the charity stripe to keep Clemson ahead by three points.

However, Rutgers found its rhythm to put Clemson on its heels. The Scarlet Knights went on a 13-2 run in three-plus minutes. Clemson called a timeout at the 10:11 mark, looking to find an offensive spark.

From down 11, Clemson dug deep to find its missing offense. A 10-0 Tigers run cut the lead to 50-49 with 5:31 left to play.

The senior from Eastover made another clutch play in crunch time. In the paint, Trapp waited to draw the contact for the hoop and the harm. The three-point play tied the game at 55-55, approaching the four-minute mark.

Little did Clemson know that Trapp’s basket would be the last one the Tigers would make on the season.

The Tigers went without a field goal for the final 4:11 in regulation.

Even amid a scoring drought, Clemson had a chance to tie the game or move in front with 40 seconds to play. Head coach Brad Brownell called a timeout in hopes of generating a bucket.

Out of the timeout, Simms was called for traveling.

Rutgers made a layup with 10 seconds to go to put the Tigers away.

Trapp finished the game with 14 points on five-of-six shooting from the field.

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