Time to wait after Duke dominates Notre Dame in men's basketball ACC quarterfinals

Tribune Wire Report
ND Insider

NEW YORK — No comeback win for a second straight night, so now Notre Dame will have to wait to learn its NCAA tournament fate.

Duke freshman Marvin Bagley was too much to handle and making perimeter shots was too much to ask for an Irish team playing for the third time in as many days. Notre Dame stayed close early but faltered in the second half of an 88-70 loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals Thursday at Barclays Center.

The league's freshman and player of the year, Bagley, finished with 33 points and 17 rebounds. His dominance allowed the Blue Devils to score 40 points in the paint.

The Irish led for all of 37 seconds.

The general NCAA projection consensus had it that Notre Dame (20-14) would be in the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight season with a win Thursday. Lose, and it would return to campus to play the waiting game.

Time to wait. The field of 68 will be announced Sunday just after 6 p.m.

Duke advances to Friday’s semifinals to face the winner of No. 3 seed Miami (Fla.) and No. 6 North Carolina. That game was still in progress at Tribune deadline.

The Blue Devils dared the Irish to shoot over the top of the 2/3 zone and make some shots. Notre Dame didn't. It finished five-for-23 (21.7 percent) from 3, two-for-11 in the second half.

Bonzie Colson led the Irish with 18 points and 10 rebounds. The perimeter of T.J. Gibbs, Matt Farrell and Rex Pflueger combined to shoot 10-of-30.

Having trailed by double digits early in the second half the previous night, when it roared back to beat Virginia Tech, Notre Dame again found itself scrambling out of an early hole in the second half. A Trevon Duval steal and dunk stretched the Duke lead to 10, 51-41, after it was a four-point game at the break. That forced Mike Brey to burn a timeout to get the Irish recalibrated.

Notre Dame never really could solve the Duke zone and make some perimeter shots. Duke just kind of did what it does on offense and slowly ground down the Irish. A quick pace early settled into a halfcourt/shot-making game. The Devils made shots; the Irish couldn’t.

At one point, Notre Dame was 3-of-18 from 3 with 12 straight misses before a Farrell 3 cut the Duke lead to 15 with 6:33 remaining. A lot of those 3 looks were from deep. Really deep.

Duke started hitting shots right from the start and led for 18 of the first 20 minutes. Its largest lead was 13, but Notre Dame trailed by only four at halftime.

Thursday’s afternoon games saw both high seeds — No. 1 Virginia and No. 4 Clemson — win its opening games.

The teams ran up and down the floor and traded baskets and big shots for much of the first seven-plus minutes. It was pickup-like. Brey needed a timeout after the second of two deep 3s from Grayson Allen stretched the Duke lead to eight. The Blue Devils showed little rust early after having not played since Saturday. They connected on 10 of their first 15 shots, five of seven from 3.

The Irish were sharp early. The Blue Devils were better, especially Allen, who made his first four shots, all from 3, for 12 points before the 12-minute mark. Allen then hit another wing 3 for five-for-five for 15 points. That allowed Duke to open a 32-19 lead at 10:09.

Allen had 17 points in the first half.

Notre Dame got to the quarterfinals with a less-than-impressive three-point victory over No. 15 Pittsburgh on Tuesday to open tournament play before an improbable comeback from a 21-point deficit with 15 minutes remaining in Wednesday’s second-round game against No. 7 Virginia Tech. It was the largest comeback — certainly not the greatest (UCLA) — in school history. That topped the 20-point halftime deficit that Notre Dame wiped out before winning in overtime at Villanova back in 2012.

Playing three games in three nights for the first time since November, when it won three games in three nights to take the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, Notre Dame does the quick-turnaround drill well. Thursday marked the third time in the last four years since joining the ACC five years ago that the Irish have played on back-to-back-to-back nights.

Thursday also was a rematch of last year’s tournament championship game, a game Duke won by pulling away late in the second half after Colson suffered a sprained ankle. It’s not the ACC tournament unless Notre Dame and Duke are matched somewhere along the line. Thursday was the fourth straight postseason that Notre Dame and Duke played. Notre Dame was 2-1 in those contests, with the loss last March in Barclays Center.

Notre Dame entered Thursday having lost its last three to Duke in a series that had been so one-sided the other way. The Irish had won five of their previous six meetings before that slide.

The teams met only once during the regular season, a game the Irish lost by 22 points at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was Notre Dame’s most lopsided loss all season, but also a game that it played without Colson and without Farrell. Still, the Irish took the best the Devils had to offer that night before a late fade.

The feeling leaving North Carolina that night was that if the Irish had Colson and Farrell, it would be different. Notre Dame had a chance to play that way on Thursday.

The Irish had to do it differently than that first meeting. Duke has since switched from a man defense team to a 2/3 zone that morphs into a 2-2-1 look. That zone takes advantage of the Blue Devils’ size, which is unmatched, not only in the ACC but maybe the country.

That zone offered Colson plenty of open looks early in the middle. He connected on five of his first 10 shots, most of those in that open spot in the lane. A lot of that work came with one of Duke’s prized freshmen, Wendell Carter, on the bench after picking up three fouls in six minutes.

Notre Dame scored 44 points in the paint — a lot of those on quick looks from Colson or dump-ins to Martinas Geben.

No. 5 DUKE 88, NOTRE DAME 70

At Barclays Center

NOTRE DAME (20-14): Geben 6-9 2-2 14, Colson 9-17 0-2 18, Pflueger 2-7 0-0 5, Gibbs 4-10 0-1 9, Farrell 4-13 0-0 11, Torres 0-0 0-0 0, Mooney 4-8 2-4 10, Gregory 0-0 0-0 0, Burns 1-3 1-2 3, Djogo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-67 5-11 70.

DUKE (26-6): Bagley 15-23 1-4 33, Carter 1-6 2-2 4, Trent 3-9 1-2 8, Allen 7-10 4-4 23, Duval 3-8 0-0 6, DeLaurier 2-2 0-0 4, White 0-0 0-0 0, Bolden 4-5 0-0 8, Goldwire 0-0 0-0 0, O'Connell 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 36-65 8-12 88.

Halftime--Duke 41-37. 3-Point Goals--Notre Dame 5-23 (Farrell 3-11, Pflueger 1-5, Gibbs 1-6, Colson 0-1), Duke 8-17 (Allen 5-6, Bagley 2-3, Trent 1-4, O'Connell 0-1, Duval 0-1, Carter 0-2). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Notre Dame 26 (Colson 9), Duke 38 (Bagley 17). Assists--Notre Dame 25 (Farrell 12), Duke 21 (Duval 11). Total Fouls--Notre Dame 12, Duke 11.

Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell (5) passes off the ball against Duke center Marques Bolden (20) and guard Trevon Duval (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 8, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)