Colson powers Irish road upset over No. 9 Duke at Cameron Indoor
Brian Plamondon | Monday, January 18, 2016
Just last week, sophomore forward Bonzie Colson moved from the starting lineup to the bench, telling Irish head coach Mike Brey he would do “whatever we need to do to get a win.”
Whatever it took was a career-high 31 points and 11 rebounds from Colson coming off the bench, as Notre Dame dealt No. 9 Duke its second straight loss, 95-91, Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.
“After playing here, I feel like we can play anywhere,” Colson said of Cameron Indoor, where the Irish had previously lost all seven of their contests. “This is the craziest atmosphere in college basketball. We try to find a chip on our shoulders coming into every game and found it tonight.”
Notre Dame (12-5, 3-2 ACC) got its first dose of the loud Cameron atmosphere early after falling behind 8-0. The Irish settled down, however, ending the half down just 50-45 despite the Blue Devils shooting 17-of-29 from the field.
Colson kept his team in it early, finishing with 13 points in 15 minutes of action during the first half. He continued his strong play in the second half, hitting two key 3-pointers down the stretch for the Irish. Colson finished the afternoon shooting 12-of-19.
“He’s a warrior,” Irish head coach Mike Brey said. “He loves atmospheres like this. That was flat-out a clinic what he did today offensively. I hope its something that gets him even more confident.”
Still, Duke (14-4, 3-2 ACC) would not go away once the Irish took their first lead of the game in the second half. Freshman guard Luke Kennard led the way for the Blue Devils with 30 points, while freshman forward Brandon Ingram chipped in 25.
Despite an 86-80 lead with time dwindling down, Notre Dame let Duke storm back and take the lead when sophomore guard Grayson Allen hit a pair of free throws with 47.2 seconds left to make it 88-87. Allen finished with 18 points.
After a three-point play by Colson with 35.8 seconds left though, the Irish held the lead the rest of the game. The Blue Devils would have one more chance when Notre Dame missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with four seconds left, but senior forward Zach Auguste was able to secure the offensive rebound and the Notre Dame victory.
Auguste’s play was a microcosm of the game as a whole, Brey said, in which the Irish outrebounded Duke, 38-33, and had 44 points in the paint compared to the Blue Devils’ 20.
“It was a great college game,” Brey said. “Two skilled teams going at it. I thought we really fought, and that’s an area where we need to be better.”
In addition to Colson’s strong play, the Irish were also sparked by junior guards Demetrius Jackson and Steve Vasturia, who added 24 and 22 points, respectively.
“Your two guards have to set the tone, and I thought those guys kept us confident and poised throughout,” Brey said.
Notre Dame has now won four out of its last five matchups against the Blue Devils, and Saturday’s win was a marked improvement from last year’s game — when the Irish played in Cameron last season, they lost by a score of 90-60.
“I’m really proud of our group. We weren’t really good in this environment last year,” Brey said. “But I thought that the returning guys, they handled it with great poise. I thought Demetrius and Steve just set the tone for us the whole game and made us believe. We got enough defensive stops to get out of there. … [It was a] great day of growth for us early in the season.”
Notre Dame returns to the court Wednesday when Virginia Tech comes to Purcell Pavilion to take on the Irish at 7 p.m.