|Posted on March 8, 2018 at 9:05 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
Everything about the opening of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish versus Duke Blue Devils game screamed classic in the making, but moved to more of a Duke highlight reel than anything else.
True freshman forward Marvin Bagley, III, scored nine points in the first four minutes of the contest.
In a span of one minute and 14 seconds from 13:57 to the 12:43 mark, both teams combined to score 14 points. During this time, senior guard Grayson Allen made back-to-back-to-back shots from beyond the arc.
With just under 10 minutes to play, the Blue Devils had created a nice cushion with an 11-point lead, 32-21, aided by Allen beginning the game 5-for-5 from the field, all three-pointers.
Then, Duke went into a dry spell with no field goals since the 10:10 mark. Notre Dame capitalized by scoring three field goals to get their deficit down to single digits, down eight at 35-27.
The Fighting Irish would work the ball around as senior guard Matt Farrell dribbled strong down the baseline and kicked out to junior guard Rex Pflueger who dribbled inside the arc and pulled up for the jumper. Senior forward Bonzie Colson added a jumper to follow, and it was just a four-point lead by the Blue Devils, 35-31.
After scoring nine points in the opening four minutes of the game, Bagley went cold following the 16-min mark of the first half until a free throw broke the drought with nine seconds before the half, not scoring for a span of 15 minutes and 51 seconds.
At the other end, senior forward Martinas Geben cleaned up at the rim for Colson and then Colson followed with a bucket to bring the Duke lead down to five, 40-35.
Sophomore guard T.J. Gibbs, Jr., would feed sophomore forward John Mooney who would throw down some force into the nylon to beat the hand of his defender and the game clock, providing some momentum for the Irish, going into the half fighting, down 41-37.
With Notre Dame closing in as the first half came to an end, Duke needed to stymie a role-reversal between them and Notre Dame, and they did to open the second half. A little over four minutes into the second half, the Blue Devils were on a 10-4 run, getting themselves back out to a double-digit lead, 51-41.
Bagley found the basket early in the second half, just as he did early in the first, accumulating 11 points in the first seven minutes of the second period. He was all smiles after hitting a three that put him over the 20-point threshold, at 21 points, with more than 13 minutes to play.
Duke continued to pour it on, having an answer for everything. Down 58-45 after the aforementioned three by Bagley, the Fighting Irish would score 21 points by the 4:09 mark of the second half. But the Blue Devils, already ahead 13, would score 22 of their own, leaving the Fighting Irish consistently trying to play catch up.
Even a botched alley-oop attempt from Allen to Bagley bounced in off Bagley at the rim, showing how everything was simply clicking for Duke in this one.
Inside two minutes to play, Colson came off the floor with 18 points on 9-for-17 shooting, nine rebounds, three steals, one assist, one block, and two turnovers.
Then, with just under a minute to go, Farrell's night ended as well, after 11 points, 12 assists, and one turnover.
Duke more than handled Notre Dame in this one, gaining a lead at 4-3 thanks to a dunk by Bagley at the 18:24 mark and never letting go of it for the final 38 minutes and 24 seconds.
Bagley concluded the game with 33 points to lead all scorers on both teams. He went 15-for-23 from the field and came down with 17 rebounds, 13 of them on the defensive end on his double-double outing. Bagley and Allen combined to score 56 of the team's 88 points, Allen having 23 on the night, 15 of them from beyond the arc.
With the victory, the 2nd-seeded Duke finds themselves back in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) men's basketball tournament semifinals.