NEW YORK - Shelden Williams tipped in Sean Dockery's missed layup with 32.7 seconds remaining to put No. 1 Duke ahead by two as the Blue Devils (5-0) held on to capture the NIT Season Tip-Off over No. 11 Memphis Friday night at Madison Square Garden, 70-67. Williams matched a career high with 30 points to earn the tournament's Most Outstanding Player honor. The forward touched the ball on nearly every possession in the second half as Duke's other All-American, J.J. Redick, was shut down by Memphis defender Rodney Carney.
Williams finished the game 11-for-13 and also grabbed eight rebounds to go along with his three blocks and two steals. "Well, it's an honor to win the first NCAA NIT," head coach Mike Krzyzewski said jokingly. "I thought it was just a terrific game. That's probably as athletic a team as we're going to face all year."
After taking a two-point lead on Williams' tip-in, Memphis (3-1) missed a shot and senior Lee Melchionni grabbed the offensive rebound and was immediately fouled. But the forward, who has struggled with his shooting so far this season, missed both free throw attempts.
Williams tipped the missed shot back to Dockery, however, and he was fouled with 9.5 seconds remaining to give Duke a second chance to extend its lead to a two-possession game. "Let's talk about the two plays that cost us the game," Memphis head coach John Calipari said. "They missed a layup and then they offensive rebounded, simply effort. They missed two free throws and they offensive rebound. That was within the last 50 seconds. That was the ballgame."
After missing the first free throw, Dockery hit the second, and Shawne Williams missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the Blue Devils' hard-fought three-point win.
After struggling with his shot for much of the game, Dockery stepped up big in the final minutes. With 2:04 left and Duke clinging to a one-point advantage, 64-63, the senior nailed his first three-pointer of the game from the left corner. "My whole team was telling me to shoot the ball, Coach even said it, he got mad at me when I wasn't shooting," Dockery said. "I've worked on that shot so much, I knew I was going to hit it, it was just a matter of time."
Playing without starting sophomore DeMarcus Nelson, who suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle in Wednesday's semifinal against Drexel, Duke freshmen Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus also made big contributions. In his second start of the season, Paulus had eight assists and added seven rebounds, while McRoberts added 12 points before fouling out with 3:54 left in the championship game.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.