Coming off two straight victories, Duke looked to continue rolling this weekend. 

However, a slow start Friday left the Blue Devils outside of the leading pack, and they were never able to recover.

Over the past two seasons, it has become a common occurrence for Duke to shoot a scintillating low-round after the opening 18. But despite playing solid golf throughout the weekend, the Blue Devils could not find that magic that typically left them atop the standings.

No. 2 Duke finished sixth at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate in Alpharetta, Ga., among a stacked field that featured three top-five teams and seven top-16 teams. The Blue Devils finished 16 strokes behind No. 8 Southern California, which finished at 22-under-par—besting No. 16 Clemson and No. 4 Georgia Tech by one and two strokes, respectively.

“I played pretty well this week,” Smalley told GoDuke.com. “But I think all of us are leaving with a sour taste in our mouths. We know we could have played better, but it was just one of those weeks where things weren't completely synced up for anyone. I was able to take advantage of the par-5s and had a lot of putts just burn the edge. We know what we can work on this week to get ready for the East Lake Cup next week. Everyone is resilient, so we are going to put this behind us and come out ready to rock and roll next week.”

In the opening round, Duke posted a 2-under 286 to start in a tie for fifth with No. 5 Alabama, No. 11 Texas A&M and Florida State. Although the score was certainly respectable, the leading pack created some separation early, with the Yellow Jackets carding an 18-under 270, followed by the Tigers, No. 12 Wake Forest and the Trojans, all within eight strokes.

On Saturday, the Blue Devils looked to make their classic jump up the leaderboard. However, despite improving on Friday’s round by shooting a 6-under 282, Duke was unable to make up significant ground on the leaderboard, rather dropping a spot to sixth. The Blue Devils were left 12 strokes behind Clemson, with the Demon Deacons, Southern California and Georgia Tech trailing by one, two and three strokes, respectively.

The final 18 holes saw Duke card a 2-over 290, keeping it alone at sixth, nine strokes clear of Virginia and UCLA, but behind Alabama by the same amount. Despite the middling team result, the Blue Devils placed three individuals in the top 20, led by Alex Smalley in fifth place.

Smalley tied for the low score for Duke on the opening 18, carding a 4-under 68 that included a bogey-free 3-under front nine. The senior followed that solid performance with a 3-under 69, which featured a bogey-less 1-under back nine. On Sunday, however, the Wake Forest, N.C., native had four bogeys en route to even-par 72. The 7-under total left Smalley seven strokes behind Trojan Justin Suh, who comfortably defeated Luke Schniederjans and Turk Pettit by four strokes.

Chandler Eaton—playing on his high school course—struggled in the early going, with a double-bogey on 13 leaving him at 2-over 74 through 18. However, the junior bounced back with a bogey-free 5-under 67, one off the low round of the day. A final round even-par that saw Eaton birdie the last two holes gave him his 15th career top-20 finish with a tie for 15th.

“I thought that I adjusted really well today,” Eaton said. “The wind direction and weather was totally different and I did well to get in tune with it. I played with much more freedom today, tried to get in a good flow and be completely fearless. I am proud for coming back from a difficult day yesterday.”

Adrien Pendaries had an exciting opening round that included a hole-in-one on the par-3 17th and a birdie on the 18th that helped the sophomore to a 4-under 68 finish. However, the magic on the penultimate hole did not return on Saturday, with the Frenchman carding a bogey, leaving him at even-par 72 for the day. The final round saw a tumultuous start with five straight bogeys after the opening hole. Nonetheless, Pendaries rebounded with 4 birdies on the back nine to salvage a 3-over 75, concluding the tournament at 1-under and tied for 19th.

“I did a good job of scoring today,” Pendaries said. “I did not have my A-game, but limited the mistakes and made some good putts for birdie—and a hole-in-one is always a nice bonus. I am excited for the team, we shot under par today but have much more in the tank. We have performed very well on second days recently so I think we are all excited to get out tomorrow and try to move up the leaderboard.”

Evan Katz and Steven DiLisio were unable to find the red this weekend like their teammates, finishing at 5-over and 19-over, leaving the duo at 45th and 72nd, respectively. Katz improved throughout the weekend, going from 76 to 74 to 71, with the final round including an eagle on the par-4 eighth.

Meanwhile, DiLisio went through a rough patch on the back nine on Friday, shooting 9-over and ending the day at 10-over 82. Four bogeys on the final nine Saturday left the junior at a 4-over 76. Sunday saw DiLisio card two double-bogeys on the front nine and three bogeys on the back-nine, leaving him at 5-over 77.

Duke will look to get back to its winning ways at the Grandover Collegiate in Greensboro, N.C., from Oct. 26-28 before immediately heading back to Georgia to participate in the East Lake Cup ending Oct. 31. The latter tournament is a prestigious competition that returns the four semifinalists from the NCAA championship to compete on the East Lake Golf Club, which hosts the final event of the PGA playoffs—won by Tiger Woods this past August.