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Sunday, June 16, 2024
The Observer

No. 9 Blue Devils thump Irish in Coach K’s final game at ND

In the spring of 1987, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski offered an assistant coach at Dematha Catholic High School a place as an assistant on staff. Almost 35 years later, the mentor got one last victory over the mentee as Mike Brey’s Notre Dame fell 57-43 to No. 9 Duke Monday night.  

The Blue Devils (18-3, 8-2 ACC) took a share of the ACC lead with Miami at Purcell Pavilion as potential 2022 No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero overcame a cold start to lead all scorers with 21 points. Duke freshman forward A.J. Griffin finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. 

Notre Dame, who entered the contest shooting almost 46% from the field and 38% from 3, went 3-18 from beyond the arc and 17-61 overall Monday. Paul Atkinson Jr. led the Irish with 14 points. However, the Irish’s season leading scorers — senior guard Dane Goodwin and freshman guard Blake Wesley — were held to 3-22 from the field combined. 

Krzyzewski said the story of the game was Duke’s ability to stifle the typically prolific Irish on just one day of preparation. 

“Mike’s team can be an offensive juggernaut,” he said. “I mean, they’ve been playing so well. They’re old and together, but tonight we were able to defend them.” 

Brey said other teams had previously tried to run the Irish off the arc this season. 

“But we’ve eventually been able to get loose in the second half,” he said. “No shot tonight.” 

Duke only shot 15.8% from beyond the arc but outrebounded the Irish 51 to 36. Banchero said Duke will have to improve offensively but can always count on their overall effort and defense. 

“As long as those two things are 100%, we’re going to give ourselves a good shot of winning every game,” he said. 

The Irish (14-7, 7-3 ACC), meanwhile, suffered a disappointing setback in their quest to reach their first NCAA Tournament since 2017. The Irish entered the weekend among the “Next Four Out” in ESPN’s bracketology before beating Virginia 69-65 Saturday night. 

It has been a season of resurgence for the Irish of late. Notre Dame beat Louisville away from home for the first time since 2015 before beating Virginia for just the second time in 18 clashes. A win Monday would have given the Irish consecutive victories over the Blue Devils for the first time since 2016, but Notre Dame instead suffered its first loss at home this season. 

“The moment got (to) us a little bit,” said Brey. 

The Blue Devils went to five-time ACC Freshman of the Week Banchero right away, who missed a jumper. Senior guard Prentiss Hubb gave the Irish an early lead with an aggressive drive and layup, but Duke then went on a 7-2 run into the under-16 that included a wide-open 3 from Banchero and a putback by grad student forward Theo John. 

The Irish were outrebounded 29-19 in the first half. But, Notre Dame’s bigger problems lay uncharacteristically on offense. Notre Dame shot just under 19% and went 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in the first half. For their part, the Blue Devils only shot 37.5 % from the field and 10% from 3 before halftime.

In fact, the Irish did not manage a field goal for six and a half minutes before Atkinson finished inside and Wesley hit a pullup jumper to cut the lead to three (11-8). 

Notre Dame, however, stayed within touching distance of Krzyzewski’s team by forcing eight turnovers in the first half. Energized by an appearance on the big screen by Jerome Bettis during the under-12 timeout, Notre Dame fans had more reason to cheer after Duke turned it over on two consecutive possessions. 

Wesley capitalized on the first turnover with a big dunk in transition, but a 3-pointer from Cormac Ryan that would have tied the game at 13 went in and out. Duke sophomore 7-footer Mark Williams soon managed a three-point play off an alley-oop, and Banchero pulled up to make it an 18-10 game at the under-8. 

The Irish crowd got on their feet again after Hubb found a wide-open Atkinson for a layup and Laszewski for a dunk to cut the lead to 18-14. However, there were plenty of Duke fans in the building. They made almost as much noise when the Blue Devils went on a 7-0 run. During that run, Goodwin and Atkinson both missed layups. Blue Devils junior forward Wendell Moore Jr. finished with a reverse inside after a nice cut to extend the run and Duke’s lead to 27-14 at the half. 

Krzyzewski said Duke’s 9-0 run to finish the first half with most of his starters off the floor was a key moment in the game. Brey commented on multiple occasions on the importance of Notre Dame’s missed layups. 

“I think [the] stuff you miss around the basket — and we missed a bunch of it — is very deflating,” Brey said. 

Goodwin entered the contest as the only player in the country shooting 50% or over from the field and from 3 while averaging over 15 ppg. The Upper Arlington, Ohio, native was held scoreless though Monday night. After scoring in double digits in every game this season, he went 0 for 7 from the field. Three-time ACC freshman of the week Blake Wesley, who entered the game as Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer, finished 3 for 15 after being guarded primarily by Moore, one of the ACC's best defenders. 

The Irish got off to a poor start in the second half as the Blue Devils started to make their presence known. Freshman forward A.J. Griffin made an open 3 after two offensive rebounds before Banchero scored in the lane to stretch the lead to 34-16. An A.J. Griffin layup in transition forced Brey to call timeout with just over 15 minutes to play. Then, the Blue Devils stretched the lead to 22 (42-20) before a brief Irish fightback. 

The student section roared to life as Prentiss Hubb made Notre Dame’s first 3 of the game. That was followed by an emphatic dunk by Laszewski off a turnover to cut the Duke lead to 17 with just under 13 to go. 

The Irish kept the score respectable after that, but Duke never led by less than double digits the rest of the way as the Blue Devils cruised to a key ACC win on the road and Krzyzewski left Purcell Pavilion a winner one final time. 

Notre Dame now goes on the road to the ACC-leading Hurricanes Wednesday before heading to NC State Saturday. Tip-off at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Florida, is scheduled for 7 p.m.