Duff helps Carmel snuff skid

 
 
Updated 12/20/2014 6:18 PM

C.J. Duff stretched his run of "A" efforts to three, while his Carmel Catholic basketball team stopped a streak of another kind.

"It's a relief, definitely," a smiling Duff said after the Corsairs snapped a five-game losing slide with a 71-62 win over Grant in the opening game of Jacobs' Hinkle Holiday Classic on Saturday morning.

 

Duff finished with 31 points (three 3-pointers), 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. The junior guard had also turned in an "A" performance Friday night by scoring a career-high 30 points against Joliet Catholic.

"I'm blessed to go on this run," Duff said. "I'm 'hot.' Hopefully I can keep this going and help my team win."

On Thursday, Duff earned an A in head coach Zack Ryan's math class.

"I was ecstatic about that," Duff said. "I like being in his class. It's the coach and the player, and then it's the teacher and the student. He distinguishes which one (is which). He treats me like a regular student, and I like that."

Ryan, for the most part, liked the way Carmel (3-5) played against pesky Grant (0-8), which was led by sophomore Ben Kusiak's 20 points and 8 rebounds and senior Jason Kaye's 14 points.

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"They haven't won, but they're better than their record shows," Ryan said of the Bulldogs.

A seesaw game finally turned in Carmel's favor in the third quarter, after a Kusiak layup tied the score at 39-39 with 3:35 left.

The Corsairs took the lead when Michael Pabst finished an inbounds play, starting a 12-0 run to end the quarter. Shareif Bailey (14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals) and Brian Julien (8 points) knocked down 3s during the run, while Duff put back his own miss and sank a 10-footer.

When Carmel opened the fourth with Bailey hitting a floater and Thomas McGrail scoring in the post, the Corsairs' lead was 55-39.

Carmel still led by 16 points with five minutes left, but Grant rallied to pull within 7 on two occasions down the stretch.

"We got to get to a point where we can put a team away," Ryan said. "Even (Friday) night, we get a lead and we don't sustain the intensity, and we let a team back in."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Carmel pulled it out, as Duff's free throws iced it. Duff went 6 of 6 from the foul line in the fourth and 10 of 11 for the game. He shot 9 of 17 from the floor.

"Teams like (Grant), that haven't won a game, they're always going to come out and fight," Duff said. "They don't know what it's like to win, so they're going to play hard. That's how we got to come out."

Grant also received 9 points each from sophomore Andy Kaye and junior James Mobley, who also had 9 rebounds.

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