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AJ Neuharth-Keusch


USA TODAY

Published 8:05 PM EST Nov 21, 2018

So much for an undefeated season.

The star-studded No. 1 Duke Blue Devils — led by top NBA draft prospects Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish — fell to third-ranked Gonzaga on Wednesday night, 89-87, in the Maui Invitational championship game. 

It was Duke’s first loss of the season and, at least temporarily, quieted the hype surrounding the team that many have already crowned as one of the best ever.

The Blue Devils had trailed for a total of 35 seconds in their five games this season heading into Wednesday’s showdown, but the Rui Hachimura-led Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and never looked back — at least until the final few minutes. They entered halftime up 47-39 and held a comfortable lead before a furious run by Duke narrowed the score to 83-81 with 3:45 remaining. 

The teams jostled for position from there, but the Blue Devils never regained the lead. Duke had the ball in the final seconds with a chance to tie the game or take the lead, but a layup attempt by Barrett was blocked by Brandon Clarke, and time expired. 

Williamson finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the loss. Barrett added 23 points on 25 shots, while Reddish had just 10 on 3-for-9 shooting. As a whole, the Blue Devils shot just 43.1 percent from the field — their lowest mark of the season.

Gonzaga led by as many as 16 points in the second half before Duke’s rally. 

The Blue Devils, who were down 89-87 with 1:17 remaining, had multiple chances in the final minute to take the lead, but a handful of missed shots and layups helped the Bulldogs hang on despite going 0-4 on trips to the free-throw line.

Hachimura led Gonzaga with 20 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Clarke finished with 17 points and six rejections — none bigger than the one that saved the game. 

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