Blue Devils finish off Eagles
Buzzer-beating shots draw the loudest cheers and biggest accolades.
No. 4 Duke turned the tables on that scenario Sunday night and walked off the Conte Forum court with as tough a win as the Blue Devils have captured this season.
Trailing by five points with two minutes to play, Duke scored the game’s final six points and stopped Boston College’s final possession to win 62-61 in ACC basketball.
After pushing back to take the one-point lead thanks to a Quinn Cook 3-pointer and three free throws from senior center Mason Plumlee, Duke (21-2, 8-2 ACC) had to survive as Boston College held the ball for the final 25 seconds.
It's a position Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t mind seeing his team face.
“In today’s day and age about guys hitting shots to win a ballgame? That’s a cool thing, and I hope we do that sometime,” Krzyzewski said. “I hope it doesn’t happen to us, but one guy does that.
"When you get a defensive exchange to stop, it’s five guys playing as one. To me, there is no better feeling than to win a game that way.”
Duriing a timeout before the final sequence, Krzyzewski altered Duke’s defense slightly. The Blue Devils' guards had been getting caught up in ball screens allowing Boston College freshman guard Olivier Hanlan, who had 20 points, easy drives to the basket around Duke's slower post men.
So Krzyzewski had 6-4 freshman Rasheed Sulaimon guard Boston College big man Ryan Anderson, who Duke coaches knew was going to set the ball screen for Hanlan. When the screen came, Sulaimon switched to Hanlan and slowed his drive toward the basket in the final seconds.
Hanlan had to attempt a pull-up jumper from 10 feet, which bounced off the rim. Duke guard Tyler Thornton wrestled the ball away from the Eagles and the buzzer sounded giving the Blue Devils the win.
“Coach, he knows what to do,” Plumlee said. “He knows Anderson was going to set the ball screen. He put Sheed on Anderson because they kept involving me in the ball screen. Him and Tyler are two of our best perimeter defenders, and they came through with the stop.”
That last defensive stand completed a stretch where Duke held Boston College scoreless over the game’s final 2:15. Hanlan had hit two free throws at that point to give Boston College (10-13, 2-8) a 61-56 lead.
On Duke’s next possession, Krzyzewski called a play for Cook even though the sophomore point guard had made only 2 of 9 shots up to that point. But Cook buried a 3-pointer from the right corner to leave Duke down 61-59 with 1:58 left.
“I knew I was having a sub-par game, but I just wanted to move on,” said Cook, who had more turnovers (four) than assists (three). “Coach K drew up the play for me, and I just wanted to take the shot with confidence. It says a lot about Coach that he had confidence in me after a rocky game.”
Krzyzewski called the play even though he admitted being baffled as to why Cook was reluctant to shoot in the game.
“He really hits a lot of corner threes,” Krzyzewski said. “Even if it didn’t (go in), it was a good shot. These guys, in order to get better, they have to be in position to make big shots.”
Hanlan and Anderson missed shots for Boston College before Duke regained possession looking to tie the game. Cook missed a jumper with 1:01 left, but the ball went out of bounds off Boston College.
Duke worked the ball inside to Plumlee, who was fouled and sank two free throws to tie the game at 61 with 46 seconds left.
“I just had that feeling that I knew they were going in,” Plumlee said.
Boston College’s Joe Rahon bounced a 3-point attempt off the side of the backboard with 28 seconds left and Plumlee was fouled while corralling the rebound.
He made 1 of 2 free throws this time, leaving him with a team-high 19 points and giving Duke the 62-61 lead to set up the final defensive stand.
After the snowstorm in Boston forced Duke to reschedule its charter flight from Saturday to Sunday and a lackluster first half where the Blue Devils trailed by as many as eight points, getting a win in such dramatic fashion left them feeling good.
“We just showed we’re tough and we’re together,” said senior guard Seth Curry, who scored 18 points. “Last year’s team definitely wouldn’t have won this type of game.
"We just fought. Nobody got down. Nobody panicked when we got down five toward the end of the game. Everybody just made plays.”
No. 4 Duke 62, B.C. 61
Percentages: FG .404, FT .778. 3-Point Goals: 6-17, .353 (Cook 3-5, Curry 2-6, Thornton 1-3, Murphy 0-1, Sulaimon 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 3 (Mas. Plumlee 2, Jefferson). Turnovers: 13 (Cook 4, Mas. Plumlee 3, Thornton 3, Curry, Murphy, Sulaimon). Steals: 5 (Curry 2, Thornton, Cook, Mas. Plumlee).
Percentages: FG .447, FT .850. 3-Point Goals: 2-11, .182 (Heckmann 1-1, Hanlan 1-2, Rubin 0-1, Anderson 0-1, Jackson 0-2, Rahon 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 12 (Anderson 3, Van Nest 2, Jackson 2, Rahon 2, Hanlan, Heckmann, Clifford). Steals: 11 (Jackson 3, Odio 3, Hanlan 2, Anderson 2, Rubin).
A—6,709. Officials—Jim Burr, Sean Hull, Brian O’Connell.