Updated at: 01/27/2013 6:37 PM
By PETE IACOBELLI
(AP) CLEMSON, S.C. - Nikki Dixon knows Clemson’s got plenty to learn from its latest loss to No. 10 Maryland.
The Lady Tigers (5-14, 1-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped their 12th straight to the Terps, 80-40 on Sunday. And as each shot dropped for Maryland (17-3, 8-1), Dixon could sense her team’s confidence falling, too.
"We do that a lot when teams get a run on us," she said. "In the beginning, if they come out hot, we tend to drift down and go downplay what’s happening and not stay in the moment."
The scenario cost Clemson again as Maryland shot a season best 58.9 percent (33 of 56) and had five players in double figures at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers trailed No. 4 Duke 7-0 here this past Thursday night, yet rallied to keep things close before losing 60-46 as the game slipped away in the second half.
This time, though, the Lady Tigers had no answers for Maryland’s tall, physical post players and Katie Rutan’s outside shooting.
Clemson coach Itoro Coleman said the pressure cooker of two, top 10 teams back to back took a toll on her players. "While you’re in it, though, you got to figure ways to mentally snap them out of it," she said.
Tianna Hawkins, the ACC’s top scorer, had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Alyssa Thomas, second to her teammate in scoring and tied with Hawkins for the rebounding lead, also had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Rutan scored 16 points off four 3-pointers, breaking the game open with three straight long-range shots in the first half to turn a 19-12 lead into a 28-14 runaway.
Maryland coach Brenda Frese says Rutan has been ready to play. "She allows us to have a real inside-outside game," the coach said. "We know how talented we are with our bigs, but to really stretch the defense like that is critical."
The Terps did plenty of damage with their inside game, too. Coming off a stellar, 85-59 win over No. 11 North Carolina this past Thursday night, Maryland picked right up against the Tigers.
Alicia DeVaughn had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting and 6-foot-4 freshman Malina Howard got into the act with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
Hawkins said the team talked about not letting up at Clemson after the North Carolina win. "It takes one game at a time for us to get where we want to go," she said.
The Terps won their seventh straight since their lone league loss to North Carolina back on Jan. 3. Maryland dominated the rematch with the Tar Heels and kept the offensive show going at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Dixon had 17 points to lead Clemson, which has lost seven of eight.
Maryland outrebounded Clemson 44-23 and held the Lady Tigers to 25 percent shooting (14 of 56) for the game.
Coleman said her team started the game flat and unlike the loss to Duke were not able to tighten things up and get themselves back in contention.
"We had a chance to respond early and we just didn’t," she said. "We got deeper and deeper and deeper in the hole and we could not dig ourselves out of it."
The Terps led 44-18 at the half and grew the lead to 45 points late in the second period.
Maryland came out fast, making six of its first seven shots for a 13-2 lead that only increased at Littlejohn Coliseum. Rutan was the big reason why, breaking things wide open with three consecutive 3-pointers. Howard’s bucket gave Maryland a 36-16 lead and Chloe Pavlech followed with a 3-pointer. And the Terps accomplished the large lead without Thomas, held to one field goal the first 20 minutes.
The Lady Tigers had hung tough with Duke for about 30. This time, they didn’t have the height or stamina to stay with Maryland. Clemson went more than 10 minutes without a field goal as the Terps went on a 22-4 run to the finish of the half.
The Lady Tigers made only 7 of 27 shots the opening half and were outrebounded 25-9. Maryland started three players up front in Hawkins, Thomas and DeVaughn who are 6-2 or taller _ more than Clemson had available for the game.
The game was the second of a doubleheader after Clemson’s men beat Virginia Tech 77-70 and the school hoped for a solid crowd for the women’s game. But just a fraction of the 7,950 who attended the first game stayed for the nightcap.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)