Washington, D.C. – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish came into the ACC tournament as defending champions, and their quest to repeat is still intact as they defeated the No. 19 Duke Blue Devils in thrilling fashion on Thursday afternoon.
In what was a perfect game for March, the Irish completed a miraculous second half comeback to defeat the Blue Devils in overtime 84-79. The Irish are now 21-10 and will face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the semifinals.
The Irish played well for most of the first half. Freshman Matt Ryan hit two deep 3-pointers while Demetrius Jackson and Bonzie Colson controlled the middle of the floor with short jump shots. Duke Senior Marshall Plumlee picked up three early fouls, forcing Coach Mike Krzyzewski to take him out of the game. The Irish were not able to take advantage, however, and Duke went on a late first half run to go up 45-37 at the half.
The second half was more of the same until the Irish miraculously showed some life. Duke was up 64-48 at one point, but Notre Dame went on a 14-0 run to bring the score to 64-62. Irish forward Zach Auguste looked to have a clean block on a fast break to extend the run, but the referees called a foul that stopped the bleeding temporarily for the Blue Devils.
The Irish comeback looked to be complete when junior V.J. Beachem hit a 3-pointer to go up 67-66. However, Duke Freshman Brandon Ingram hit a three himself to put the Blue Devils back up two. Beachem later hit another three to tie the game again at 70 and force overtime.
The Irish took a 75-70 lead early in overtime and never looked back. Duke’s offense fell apart down the stretch and the Irish began to figure out their zone defense. The Irish fans in attendance at the Verizon Center grew louder as they sensed the momentum changing. This was Notre Dame’s second win over Duke this season.
Auguste led the way with 19 points and 22 rebounds. Beachem also had 19 points, including four huge 3-pointers. Ryan had 9 points off the bench.
The Irish have had a roller coaster season, but a win like this could give them momentum going into the tournament. But first they will have to deal with the Tar Heels, who the Irish have already defeated this season. The game is at 7 p.m. Friday on ESPN.