It’s how you respond, they say.
No. 9 Duke picked up the win Saturday afternoon in the second leg of a three-game homestand, answering a number of surges by visiting Boston College but ultimately leading nearly wire-to-wire in the 80-65 victory. It was a balanced effort from head coach Jon Scheyer’s Blue Devils, who had all five starters score in double figures and put the Eagles in the rearview mirror early in the second half.
“This group has shown, through two years, not only do they have a killer instinct, but they just keep coming at you,” Scheyer said after the game. “Anytime they've gotten knocked back, they’ve responded, they’ve stuck together, and we just have to keep growing every day.”
It took only a few minutes for the Blue Devils (18-5, 9-3 in the ACC) to turn their four-point halftime lead into a 10-point cushion. Freshman guard Jared McCain and sophomore forward Mark Mitchell combined to score the half’s first seven points as Duke rattled off a 9-2 run to take control of the afternoon for good.
Mitchell’s second-half output proved especially difficult for the Eagles (13-10, 4-8) to overcome. The second-year starter scored 15 of his 17 points after the break and hit his fifth 3-pointer of the season to give Duke its largest lead yet at 56-43 with 12:31 to play. He hit both of his long-range attempts Saturday, with the second providing the final blow to Boston College with just one minute to go.
“Mark is special,” Scheyer said. “He’s guarding [Quinten] Post on one end … a lot of our offense runs through him. I don't even know if he scored, it might have been just a couple in the first half, but the bursts that he came out with right away in the second half, he's the one that got us separation. We're at our best when he's attacking. I just love how assertive he was.”
Despite the balanced scoring, star sophomore Kyle Filipowski stood out with 16 points after being held to eight in Wednesday’s win against Notre Dame. Each of Jeremy Roach (16), Tyrese Proctor (10) and Mitchell joined him in double figures, while McCain posted his third double-double — and second in three outings — with 11 points and 10 rebounds and five assists.
Saturday’s contest got off to a furious start, with neither team attempting a free throw for nearly six minutes and the Blue Devils capitalizing on the torrid pace. Roach and Filipowski both hit 3-pointers in the opening minutes as Duke attempted five of its first six shots from beyond the arc and raced out to an early 14-7 lead.
Filipowski’s early triple notably broke a personal 2-of-17 spell from deep, and the seven-footer wrapped up his night with an efficient 2-of-4 rate from distance and 7-of-15 overall. It was generally a struggle for both sides, though, as Duke shot 3-pointers at a 10-of-30 clip and Boston College went 5-of-26.
The Eagles stayed in it thanks to an early boost by senior guard Mason Madsen, who tallied nine of the visiting side’s first 11 points. His offensive play helped Boston College overcome the Blue Devils’ focus on leading scorer Quinten Post, who was held to two first-half points on 0-of-3 shooting. Duke consistently sent double-teams at the star seven-footer, with Mitchell and freshman forward Sean Stewart leading the defensive effort.
“We gave him a hard time,” Filipowski said of Post. “And like I said, it was an all-around defensive effort for us and the guys. It’s not just one guy getting the stop.”
Duke held Boston College at arm’s length for most of the opening frame, but the Eagles briefly captured the lead on a Claudell Harris Jr. triple with under five minutes remaining before the break. It took a late 7-0 surge by the freshman duo of Stewart and Caleb Foster, along with a highlight-reel block by Filipowski, to give the Blue Devils a 36-32 halftime lead. Stewart and Foster were the only bench players to score in a first half otherwise dominated by the starting lineups.
“We finished the first half well, and that's different than what we've done recently,” Scheyer said. “We outscored them by five, you go up into halftime up four, then you have the ball coming out. And so I thought that was a big step for us, to close the first half that way.”
One area in which the Eagles had the advantage was at the free-throw line. For the second time in three games, the Blue Devils went the first half without a trip to the charity stripe while Boston College went 5-of-8. Overall, the Eagles took three more attempts with 16 on the day.
Another standout performer for the Blue Devils was Proctor, who crossed the 10-point threshold after consecutive single-digit scoring nights against Notre Dame and North Carolina. The Australian sophomore was efficient from deep (2-of-6) on a mostly bleak shooting night for his team.
“I think this is the closest we've had the four guards, clicking and just playing their butts off on defense and sharing it on offense,” Scheyer said. “That’s why we tied our high with 19 assists in conference play today.”
For the visitors, Harris and Madsen led with 13 and 15 points, respectively, in the losing effort. Post finished the afternoon with eight points, well below his average output of 16.4 per outing, to go along with nine rebounds.
With the win, Duke moves to 29-3 all-time against Boston College and stays one loss behind rival North Carolina for the top spot in the ACC standings. Next up is Monday’s home matchup against Wake Forest at 7 p.m. before a three-game road trip begins.
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Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity senior and was previously sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.