GREENSBORO, N.C. — Forward Bonzie Colson scored 17 points and guard Demetrius Jackson had 15 points as 11th-ranked Notre Dame led for most of the game in a 74-64 upset of second-ranked Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals Friday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Guard Jerian Grant added 13 points for the Irish, who built a big lead, then held on down the stretch.
Third-seeded Notre Dame (28-5), in just its second season in the ACC, meets fifth-seeded North Carolina (24-10) in Saturday night’s final.
Center Jahlil Okafor scored 28 points for Duke (29-4) on 13-of-18 shooting from the field. Forward Justise Winslow added 11 points and guard Tyus Jones had 10 points for the Blue Devils.
Duke, which has won 19 league tournament titles, had its 12-game winning streak snapped. Two of the team’s four losses this year came to Notre Dame, which lost by 30 points at Duke last month.
The Irish made 22 of 25 free throws to help facilitate the upset.
Notre Dame’s 45-28 lead with 17:49 left was reduced to 49-41 in about four minutes, causing an Irish timeout with 13:27 left.
Duke cut the deficit to nine a few times. Several times, the Blue Devils had a chance to make a run but misfired on 3-pointers. They made only 2 of their first 11 long-range attempts and finished 3 of 17.
At 66-59, Duke was as close as it had been since 12-5. Okafor scored again in the low post and Jones made a 3-pointer to close the gap to 68-64.
But Okafor missed two foul shots with 1:48 to play.
Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton then drilled a 17-footer before a Duke turnover, and the rest was done on free throws.
Notre Dame saw a 20-point lead vanish a night earlier in the quarterfinals against Miami, but then recovered to regain the lead.
Okafor picked up his second foul with 5:22 left in the first half. He went to the bench briefly, but was back on the court because the Blue Devils needed him.
Notre Dame led by as many as 16 points in the first half before taking a 41-26 lead to the break.
Duke’s largest halftime deficit this season had been a four-point hole against St. John’s.
Notre Dame broke out to an 18-5 lead, a strong start for the second night in a row.
The Irish made 10 of their first 17 shots from the field without attempting a 3-pointer. They did much of their damage driving into the lane, resulting in four three-point plays in the first half.
Notre Dame’s only successful 3-pointer before halftime was forward V.J. Beachem’s launch for the final basket of the half.
Duke had a stretch of about five minutes without scoring.
If there was a downside for the Irish, Grant was stuck with his second foul with 47 seconds left in the half.
NOTES: Duke and Notre Dame hadn’t met in the postseason since Duke won a second-round game in the 2002 NCAA tournament in Greenville, S.C. … The teams split regular-season games this year, each winning on their home courts. Notre Dame won 77-73 on Jan. 28 before Duke’s 90-60 trouncing Feb. 7. … Notre Dame tied the school mark for the second-most victories in a season at 27 by winning Thursday night against Miami. The records is 33 wins for the 1908-09 team. … Duke played in the tournament semifinals for the 13th time in a 14-year period. … Duke entered the game with a 39-17 mark in ACC tournament games played at the Greensboro Coliseum. … Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is a former Duke assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski.
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