PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Marshall Plumlee ditched the mask guarding his broken nose in the first half and responded by scoring a career-high 23 points to lead defending national champion Duke past UNC Wilmington 93-85 on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Plumlee had 10 of his points and two blocks as the Blue Devils stepped up the defensive pressure early in the second half to build a lead after trailing at the break.
Duke (24-10), seeded fourth in the West, will next play Yale or Baylor. UNCW (25-8), seeded 13th, was in it until the closing moments after Plumlee and Matt Jones fouled out.
Grayson Allen also scored 23 points for the Blue Devils, but 15 came from the foul line as he shot just 4 of 12 from the field. Freshman Brandon Ingram, likely playing in his only NCAA Tournament, added 20.
Craig Ponder led UNCW with 22 points. Chris Flemmings had 18, Denzel Ingram 17 and C.J. Bryce 16.
With Duke trailing 43-40 at halftime, a lay-in and two free throws by Ingram sparked a 14-3 run. Plumlee followed a miss by Ingram then hit two foul shots, and Ingram’s lob to Plumlee gave the Blue Devils a 61-49 lead with about 14 minutes left.
The Seahawks got mired in foul trouble — they picked up their 10th midway through the half — and that was a lot to overcome.
Still, after Plumlee picked up his fourth foul with just over six minutes too, Ponder rallied the Seahawks. He hit a 3-pointer — UNCW’s first made 3 in 10 tries in the half — then had a steal and layup. A three-point play by Bryce narrowed the deficit to 78-73 with 4:42 left, but Plumlee’s offensive rebound and slam put Duke back up by seven.
UNCW shot 51.5 percent in the first half, including 6 of 12 from beyond the arc, while hounding the Blue Devils into mistakes with its press.
DUKE: The Blue Devils committed only four turnovers in the first half, but nearly every shot was challenged, and that showed in three missed layups when the ball caromed too hard off the glass because of the defensive pressure. … Duke shot 43.8 percent and was 3 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first half.
UNCW: The last time the Seahawks faced a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament was in 2002, and they upset Southern California 93-89 in overtime for their only tournament victory. … UNCW is 2-38 all-time against teams in the ACC.
Duke: A second-round game against Baylor or Yale on Saturday.
UNCW: Season over.
AP College Basketball Website: www.collegebasketball.ap.org
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