Paradina paces Varsity Blues, but Duke’s freshmen power Blue Devils to win

Photo by Martin Bazyl
Photo by Martin Bazyl

Contributed By: Chris McKee (Twitter: @mrmckee)

Mississauga, Ont. – It was another sold out crowd at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre for the Blue Devils second tilt north of the border during their Duke Canada Tour, this time going head-to-head with the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

For the second time in a week, an Ontario team was being showcased across Canada on TSN, as well as on a national level across the United States on ESPN.

And while fans from near and far have flocked to the Toronto area for their chance to get an early look at the highly-touted NCAA squad and their prized freshmen, the impressive Ontario University Athletics (OUA) talent has also been on full display for this wide-reaching audience.

Toronto fell into an early deficit on the big stage, rimming out a handful of shots in the opening minutes, while Duke's dynamic duo of RJ Barrett and fellow freshman phenom Zion Williamson picked up right where they left off on Wednesday.

The pair poured in 21 of the team's first 23 points to help Duke to a 23-14 lead at end of the first quarter, but sixth year U of T head coach John Campbell seemed to settle his troops down coming out of the break. The Varsity Blues came out firing in the second quarter and chiseled away at the Duke lead, bringing it down to 32-26 thanks in large part to Nikola Paradina.

Duke quickly turned up the volume on their vaulted attack; however, which started when 6-foot-10 junior forward Javin DeLaurier swatted away a shot attempt into the second row of the stands to get the crowd on their feet. Barrett followed DeLaurier's block with another swat of his own just a few seconds later, which helped cement the momentum shift back in favour of Duke.

Barrett led all scorers at the half with 21 points on eight-of-15 shooting to give the Blue Devils a 42-28 half-time lead.

After the break, it was full steam ahead for the NCAA heavyweights, with the Blue Devils going on a 20-0 run in the third quarter before U of T could put an end to the run, led by Evan Shadkami's eight points in the frame.

Leading the charge once again was Mississauga-born Barrett, who led all scorers for the second straight game after finishing with 35 points, nine rebounds, and three assists on 15-of-26 shooting. Williamson, meanwhile, followed up his 29-point performance against Ryerson with a 24-point outing against U of T and he once again electrified the thousands of Duke faithful in attendance with several thunderous dunks of his own.

Paradina was the high scorer for U of T with 15 points on six-of-15 from the field.

Although the final score, 96-60, shows a one-sided affair on paper, the Varsity Blues played a competitive game for much of the 48 minutes. The effort should give coach Campbell and his squad a giant boost of confidence heading into regular season action at the end of October.

The Blue Devils, meanwhile, now head off to Montreal for their Sunday night match up against McGill for the third and final game of the Duke Canada Tour.