Associated Press
Bronson Koenig, No. 24, drives for two against Duke's Justise Winslow at the NCAA Championships on Monday, April 6, 2015.

Wisconsin Badgers Fall to Duke in NCAA Final, Bronson Koenig Scored 10 in Loss

Rodney Harwood

Wisconsin used 11 second-chance points to a tie the NCAA Finals game against Duke in the first half. Sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig (Ho-Chunk) scored nine of his 10 points in the second half. But in the end, blue streamers fell from the ceiling at the Lucas Oil Center in Indianapolis at Monday night’s NCAA championship game.

Duke freshman Tyus Jones scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, including a dagger from 3-point range with under two minutes remaining. With that, Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski claimed his fifth national title with a 68-63 victory over Wisconsin.

Koenig, just the second Native American to play in the NCAA championship game since 1958, buried a huge 3-point shot from the corner to break a tie and open the second half. Koenig, a 6-foot-4 sophomore who took over the point guard chores midway through the season, found his scoring stroke as the Badgers pressed.

Koenig went coast-to-coast, burying a 6-foot pull-up in the paint that gave Wisconsin a 44-39 lead a minute later when he stormed into the lane with a runner off the glass with the Duke defense collapsing. Koenig, the second Native to play in a championship game since Kansas Jayhawk Dee Ketchum (Delaware Tribe), gave Wisconsin a 46-39 lead at the 13:53 mark. Wisconsin held Duke scoreless for 3:50 during that run.

Wisconsin opened as a one-point favorite over Duke. Thanks to Frank Kaminsky, Nigel Hayes and Sam Dekker, the Badgers had the nation’s third-most-efficient post-up offense, and its top isolation attack, according to Synergy Sports. Kaminsky finished his final game with 21 points and 12  rebounds. Hayes had 13 and Dekker added 12.

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But the key came when Jones drained a 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining, scoring all nine of Duke’s 9-0 run, to make 66-58. Kaminsky scored on the next possession to make it a six-point deficit, but Duke hit free throws down the stretch to snap Wisconsin’s 11-game winning streak.

Koenig was 4 of 9 from the floor in Wisconsin’s return to the NCAA championship game for the first time in 57 years. He had 13 assists with just five turnovers during the NCAA tournament.

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