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Duke survives scare

Blue Devils needed late rally to defeat eight-seeded Notre Dame

Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2002

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Jason Williams has been a liability at times on free throws. The All-American guard didn't blink under NCAA tournament pressure Saturday.

Williams, just 5-for-18 from the field, sank four straight from the foul line down the stretch as top-seeded and defending national champion Duke rallied for an 84-77 second-round victory over Notre Dame in the South Regional.

"I would rather have people who shoot free throws than people who don't want the ball," said Mike Krzyzewski, who improved to 58-14 in the NCAAs. "Jason has wanted the ball his whole career at Duke and he will keep getting it as long as his career keeps lasting."

Williams is a 67 percent free-throw shooter, and one of the lowlights came in Duke's first loss of the season, against Florida State on Jan. 6. In that game, Williams missed six straight free throws in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

On Saturday, he noticed some Irish fans doing the "tomahawk chop" chant with the game on the line.

"Ever since we lost to Florida State a lot of opposing fans are doing that," Williams said. "If anything, it helps me focus even more because it makes me remember when I missed six in a row. It helps me buckle down."

He sank the go-ahead free throws with 1:04 left as the Blue Devils (31-3) advanced to the round of 16 for the fifth straight year and 18th time overall. Duke next plays fifth-seeded Indiana, which defeated North Carolina Wilmington 76-67.

Daniel Ewing, a freshman who's the likely replacement for Williams when he turns pro after this season, came through against Notre Dame with a career-high 18 points and six rebounds.

"We kind of primed Daniel for this situation," Krzyzewski said. "You can talk to a kid forever, but it's the kid who had to respond. Daniel had a great game because Daniel had the courage to have that great game."

Eighth-seeded Notre Dame (22-11) got 20 points each from David Graves and Matt Carroll, but the Irish folded down the stretch. Their coach, former Duke assistant Mike Brey, couldn't pull off the program's 10th victory over a No. 1-ranked team.

Notre Dame led 71-64 with about 6 minutes left, but was outscored 20-6 the rest of the way.

"When they were down seven and their life was flashing before their eyes, (Duke) really locked in on defense," Brey said.

At one juncture in the second half, Duke was 1-for-7 from the foul line, but sank 11 of 12 free throws over the final 1:47.

Two foul shots by Chris Duhon tied it at 71 with 4:28 left, and the score was tied twice more, the last at 75 with 1 1/2 minutes remaining.

Williams then made his go-ahead free throws and added two more with 33.9 seconds left, when Duke was clinging to a one-point lead.

Ewing iced it 11 seconds later with two free throws, as Duke improved to 18-3 in its last 21 NCAA games and Krzyzewski moved to 14-0 against former assistants.

"Our feeling was that somebody other than their key guys had to crush us today, and I take my hat off to Daniel Ewing," Brey said. "I can live with him making big shots instead of Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy or Carlos Boozer just crushing us."

Notre Dame lost 10 games by a combined 42 points this season before Saturday, so the Irish were confident and didn't give one inch to the Blue Devils -- one of Krzyzewski's seven 30-win teams.

"This is hard, but I'm thrilled to death with our program," Graves said. "We played them my freshman year and we got beat by 50. We took them to the wire here and that says a lot about where we've come in four short years."

Dunleavy's 3-pointer to open the second half gave Duke a 48-39 lead -- its largest to that point -- but the Blue Devils turned it over five times in the opening 4 1/2 minutes and Notre Dame used a 14-0 run to set up a dramatic final 10 minutes.

Brey, who won two national titles with Krzyzewski in the early '90s, shook his mentor's hand prior to the game and the two exchanged a brief hug. Then it was down to business.

Duke had jumped out to leads of 27-7, 21-7 and 39-9 in its last three games. But the Blue Devils couldn't forge a double-digit lead in the first half Saturday, as Notre Dame shut off Boozer's inside space and forced Duke to the 3-point arc for much of its offense.

At the other end, Notre Dame exploited the Blue Devils inside, scoring nine of its first 11 baskets on layups or follow shots.

Ryan Humphrey was particularly effective, with nine first-half points, eight rebounds and four blocks. The 6-foot-9 senior blocked by Williams and Boozer on consecutive possessions early.

Duke's biggest lead of the period came late. Humphery was called for a foul on Dunleavy and then hit with a technical after hitting Dunleavy in the head after they became tangled.

Dunleavy sank the four free throws to give Duke a 45-37 lead as the officials called Brey and Krzyzewski together to try to settle the teams down. After the conversation, the coaches shook hands, and Duke went to the locker room up six.

Humphrey finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.



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