Wild finish at Duke

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2007

By Bret Strelow

Salisbury Post

DURHAM — Mike Krzyzewski looked for someone to high-five in front of Duke’s bench, but nearly everyone had abandoned him.

They had rushed onto Coach K Court to swarm unlikely hero David McClure.

McClure’s 3-foot shot at the buzzer lifted the 10th-ranked Blue Devils to a 68-66 victory against

19th-ranked Clemson on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Officials reviewed the replay monitor after a game-tying 3-pointer from Clemson guard Vernon Hamilton, and the clock displayed 4.4 seconds as Josh McRoberts prepared to make an inbounds pass 94 feet from the Blue Devils’ basket. Duke guard Jon Scheyer caught McRoberts’ feed near the right sideline, dribbled from the 3-point arc to midcourt and found McClure streaking down the middle of the floor.

Hamilton trailed McClure, who caught Scheyer’s pass a few feet in front of the free-throw line and scored over K.C. Rivers.

Several Duke players and a handful of students formed a dogpile on top of McClure.

“I’ve been on teams where we’ve hit shots like that, but I’ve never been the one to hit it,” said McClure, who had eight points and six rebounds.

“You can’t explain how it feels — I just started jumping around. About a second later I got hit by the rest of the team. We went down, and it was one of the best feelings you can experience in a lifetime.”

Duke’s players experienced a wide range of emotions during the final 12 seconds.

A pair of free throws from Gerald Henderson put Duke (17-3, 4-2 ACC) ahead 66-61, and Hamilton made a layup at the other end with 5.0 seconds remaining.

McRoberts’ inbounds pass sailed behind point guard Greg Paulus and went directly to Hamilton, who was standing at the top of the key. He drilled a 3-pointer, and the clock stopped with 1.8 seconds remaining.

“I made the worst move I’ve ever made with the inbounds pass,” McRoberts said. “Going back to when I started playing basketball, I can’t think of a worse play.”

The officiating crew of Tom Lopes, John Cahill and Mike Kitts determined correctly that Hamilton’s shot went through the basket with 4.4 seconds showing, but Hamilton needed more than 0.6 seconds to convert his steal into a score.

Conflict arose because time didn’t elapse once Hamilton caught McRoberts’ pass on a bounce. The clock stayed at 5.0 seconds until Hamilton’s 3-point attempt was directly over the rim.

“I don’t exactly have the fastest release, so I know more than a second went off the clock,” Hamilton said. “There’s no way that’s all the time that passed.”

Hamilton scored 21 points to lead Clemson, which fell to 4-53 all-time at Cameron and suffered its 34th consecutive road loss to a top-25 team.

McRoberts had 17 points and 12 rebounds to help Duke beat the Tigers (18-3, 4-3) for the 20th consecutive time.

Clemson entered the game as the ACC leader in offensive rebounds, but it collected only six against the Blue Devils.

Duke, ranked 11th in the league in the same category, had six on one second-half possession and finished with a season-high 17. It outrebounded Clemson 40-24.

“That’s why I think our kids were so deserving to win,” Krzyzewski said. “It ended up with this play and that happens, especially in this conference.”

McClure enjoyed a new view of a crazy Cameron celebration.

Duke beat Virginia Tech last year when Sean Dockery caught a pass from McRoberts, took one dribble and made a

40-footer. McClure, who missed the season with a knee injury, watched that game in street clothes.

“I was able to hobble out there a little bit and get taken down,” McClure said. “I was a little nervous, but I got up and wasn’t limping, so I was happy.

“It was good to be on the inside of the fray this year.”