The defending NCAA Division II national champion Northwest Missouri State University men’s basketball team gave the Duke Blue Devils a good game Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium with a strong finish in a 69-63 exhibition game loss.

“They earned the experience,” head coach Ben McCollum said after the game. “That’s what’s neat about it is they earned the chance to play here and the chance to compete, and they gave it everything they got tonight. I’m very proud of our kids. They’re tough kids.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “We beat an outstanding team tonight. They’re accustomed to winning basketball games. Great crowd. They have a great following.”

Northwest shot 44 percent from three-point range, but Duke used its size to its advantage and out-rebounded the ‘Cats, 44-34. The Blue Devils also stepped to the free throw line 22 times, while the Bearcats got there just four times. The contest marked the second time Northwest opened its exhibition season at Duke. After Northwest’s 2017 NCAA Division II national championship, the Bearcats met the Blue Devils Oct. 27, 2017 at Cameron Indoor. Duke posted a 93-60 victory over Northwest in that matchup.

The Bearcats own a record of 100-5 since the start of the 2016-17 season. Northwest went 35-1 in 2016-17 and won the national title. The Bearcats went 27-4 in 2017-18, before going 38-0 and winning their second national crown last season.

Northwest is picked to win the MIAA in the conference’s preseason coaches and media polls.