Bonzie Colson’s herculean effort for No. 22 Notre Dame couldn’t keep No. 14 Duke from an historic performance on Saturday night.
The fifth-seeded Blue Devils became the first team in ACC tournament history to win four games in four days, overcoming Colson’s 29-point night to beat the third-seeded Irish 75-69 for the league championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Freshman Jayson Tatum led Duke with 19 points and turned in a key sequence during a 35-second stretch late that turned the game to the Blue Devils (27-8).
The back-and-forth second half saw eight lead changes before a Colson 3-pointer with 2:22 to play knotted the score at 65.
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Then Tatum took over.
He gave Duke a 66-65 lead with a free throw with 2:02 to play and then blocked Steve Vasturia’s shot. On the other end of the court, Tatum completed a Duke fast break with a lay-in, and the Blue Devils led 68-65 with 1:35 to play.
After Matt Farrell sank two free throws for Notre Dame (25-9), Duke’s Matt Jones hit his only basket of the game – a 3-pointer – with 48.9 seconds left putting the Blue Devils up 71-67.
Duke won its first ACC Tournament since 2011.
Colson hit 12 of 21 shots for the Irish while grabbing nine rebounds.
Luke Kennard added 16 points while Amile Jefferson had 14 and Grayson Allen 10 for Duke.
Duke led 38-34 at halftime, but the Irish, after shooting just 39 percent in the first half, opted to drive for closer shots – or get the ball inside to Colson – and it paid off.
Notre Dame made 8 of its first 13 shots after halftime. The Irish scored the half’s first four points to force a tie before the lead changed hands five times over the next two minutes and six seconds.
Kennard’s basket in the lane with 15:23 put Duke up 46-45.
But Duke’s offense hit a cold spell and Colson powered the Irish into the lead.
While Duke produced four consecutive empty possessions, Colson scored six points in a row.
He missed a layup in transition after a Duke turnover, but VJ Beachem slammed home the offensive rebound for a 53-46 Notre Dame lead.
The Irish took a 56-48 lead with 11:35 to play when they hit a cold spell on the offensive end by missing five of their next six shots.
That opened the door for a Duke comeback.
Jefferson scored five straight points inside while adding a free throw. Colson scored for Notre Dame, but Frank jackson sank a 3-pointer from the corner, and the Irish lead was down to 58-55.
Baskets inside by Tatum and Jefferson gave Duke a 59-58 lead with 6:09 to play
Duke started well, leading by as many as nine points in the first half. The Blue Devils hit 6 of their first 10 shots and took a 16-8 lead when Kennard sank a 3-pointer while being fouled and added a free throw.