SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sophomore Steve Vasturia misfired on his first four shots for Notre Dame in Wednesday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference college basketball showdown against fourth-ranked Duke.
But the only field-goal attempt he hit was the most critical basket for the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish in a 77-73 victory against the Blue Devils.
Senior guard Jerian Grant led Notre Dame with 23 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.
Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor led the Blue Devils with 22 points and 17 rebounds.
Duke, which beat St. John’s 77-68 on Sunday to make coach Mike Krzyzewski the only Division I men’s basketball coach with 1,000 victories, falls to 17-3 overall and 4-3 in the ACC.
Notre Dame improved to 20-2 overall and 8-1 in the ACC. It was Notre Dame’s sixth comeback win from a double-digit deficit this season.
“That one absolutely lived up to the hype,” Brey said. “Two really good teams going at it. I told my team after the game, ‘Down 10, you’ve got them right where you want them, don’t you fellas? Thanks a lot. Thanks for doing that to me again.’ We make a habit of it, but you can’t say enough about our two seniors (Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton) tonight for making us believe and helping us win.”
Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey is the only former Krzyzewski assistant to beat his former boss, and he’s done it twice now. Notre Dame upset Duke last season 79-77 in the Fighting Irish’s inaugural ACC contest.
Vasturia, a 6-foot-5 guard, swished a 3-pointer from the corner with one second on the shot clock, giving Notre Dame a 76-72 lead with 22 seconds left. He finished with seven points, hitting 4-of-4 free throws in addition to the 3-point dagger.
“It was an awesome feeling seeing the ball go through the basket and then being able to go down and defend to win the game,” Vasturia said. “As long as the team gets the win, that’s what makes me happy.”
After Vasturia’s trey gave the Irish a four-point lead, Notre Dame had a chance to increase its edge.
After Grant soared to swat away a shot by Duke senior Quinn Cook, Irish wing V.J. Beachem was fouled on the fastbreak lay-up attempt. But he missed two free throws with 13 seconds left.
Duke junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon hit one of two free throws with nine seconds left to trim the Irish lead to 76-73.
Notre Dame freshman forward Bonzie Colson made one of two free throws with seven seconds remaining, and Duke’s final attempts went awry.
Duke hurt itself with 10-of-20 free-throw shooting, including 3-of-7 in the last 3:48.
Notre Dame’s defense locked down the Blue Devils after Duke used a 9-0 second-half run on the way to a 10-point lead. After taking a 65-55 lead with 10:58 left in the second half, Duke only hit two of its final 12 shots. The Blue Devils missed seven shots in a row as Notre Dame put together a 12-0 run for a 67-65 lead with 6:23 left.
“For us, we’ll look at this as some missed opportunities,” Krzyzewski said. “We had 13 offensive rebounds and nine points off of them. There were somewhere around 6-to-8 finishes right by the bucket where that ball wouldn’t go in, especially in the first half, we had at least five, maybe six of them that were right there.”
Vasturia gave Notre Dame a 71-70 lead on a pair of free throws with 2:15 left in the second half. After an Okafor miss that was rebounded by Connaughton, Grant wounded the Blue Devils with an off-balance jumper in the lane as the shot-clock expired, putting the Irish up 73-70 with 1:07 left.
A pair of free throws by senior guard Quinn Cook let Duke close to 73-72 with 58 seconds left, setting the stage for Vasturia’s clutch 3 to turn the game Notre Dame’s way. Grant handled the ball as the shot-clock wound down, and made a quick move that drew two Duke defenders. He then kicked the ball over to Vasturia in the corner, who launched the cold-blooded shot.
“We should not have left Vasturia,” Krzyzewski said. “There’s two seconds (on the shot-clock). You have to make Grant take a two-point shot,
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