Duke Too Much For Notre Dame

Notre Dame dropped its third consecutive conference game and second straight at home, losing 84-74 to Duke in South Bend.

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Duke’s defense owned the first half and its highly efficient offense sealed the deal in the second as the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils beat No. 21 Notre Dame in South Bend, 84-74, Monday night. 

Duke limited its hosts to just seven first half field goals before closing out the Irish with what they do best -- scoring consistently in tight game situations.

Twice Notre Dame cut double-digit Duke leads to five, 39-34 early in the second and 55-50 at the midway point before ultimately trimming the visitor’s longstanding lead to one, 63-62 with six minutes remaining.

They would never take the lead thereafter.

Harassed by the Purcell Pavilion crowd all evening, Duke junior guard Grayson Allen responded to Notre Dame’s charge, calmly nailing a three-pointer from the wing followed by a shot fake and jumper just inside the key to spark an 11-2 Duke run and 74-64 margin, effectively ending the contest. 

The Blue Devils finished with a 38-26 rebounding edge and a resulting 16-point scoring advantage in the paint, 36-20. Included therein was a requisite edge in second chance points (14-4), a recurring theme for Mike Brey’s undersized Irish.

Duke then closed out the Irish with a 23-24 performance from the foul line, hitting 20 of their 21 attempts in the second stanza.  

“I have to give credit to Duke,” said Irish head coach Mike Brey. “I thought we had a run in us in the second half. We gave ourselves a chance but we just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”

It was the Blue Devil’s second win over the Irish in the last seven meetings dating back to January 2014, the first matchup between the programs following Notre Dame’s move to the Athletic Coast Conference.

Irish senior forward V.J. Beachem led Notre Dame with 20 points, hitting 7 of 14 shots from the floor. Bonzie Colson scored 17 to go with a team-high nine rebounds while Ashton Gibbs contributed 12 points off the bench.

Matt Farrell added 11 from the point but missed six of his nine shots and had just four assists. Senior captain Steve Vasturia finished with seven points, hitting one of his nine field goal attempts.

Neither enjoyed consistent success in penetration.

“The thing we didn’t want to give up was straight line drives and we didn’t want to over-help when they did drive, because they’re so dangerous with how they shoot the basketball,” said interim Duke head coach Jeff Capel.

Leading the charge throughout for Duke was freshman forward Jason Tatum. The long-armed rookie ripped down a game-high 14 rebounds to augment his 19 points. The aforementioned Allen led Duke with 21 points, none bigger than his five consecutive scored after the Irish had trimmed the Blue Devils lead to one.

Allen’s backcourt mates Luke Kennard and Matt Jones added 16 apiece. Duke shot better than 53 percent from the field in the first half and augmented that effort with a 50 percent performance in the second.

The Irish missed 19 of 26 field goal attempts in the first half including their last nine shots from the floor en route to a 12-point deficit, 37-25 at the break. They rebounded to connect on 17 of 30 field goal attempts, 56.7 percent.

Ultimately, 14 missed three-pointers in 21 attempts kept the smaller Irish at bay throughout.

Notre Dame scored 22 points off Duke turnovers and shot more free throws than did their guests but failed to capitalize, missing nine of 28 attempts from the stripe – the death knell as they attempted to rally throughout the second stanza.

“We have to start, probably, a different lineup,” said Brey of his team’s offensive struggles in the opening 20 minutes. “We scored 49 points in the second half.

“We’re going to have to score some points to beat some people in this league.”

The 17-6 Irish lost their third straight to fall to 6-4 in league play after a 5-1 start. Duke (17-5) improved to 5-4 following a 2-3 scuffle at the outset.

Notre Dame travels to conference leader North Carolina (7-2) Saturday. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

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