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Duke Zone Lassos Cowgirls, 77-68
Team Box
Duke Zone Lassos Cowgirls, 77-68
Player by Player
Duke Zone Lassos Cowgirls, 77-68
By Rob Clough
November 14, 2008


Game Recap

The last time Duke opened up against a Big XII opponent at home, it was a showdown with a Texas Tech team that featured Plenette Pierson and Jia Perkins. It was the first game for Monique Currie and Wynter Whitley, and both players had fine initial performances. This time around, the focus was on All-America guard Andrea Riley, a scoring machine who has the green light from anywhere on the floor. Duke had a number of advantages coming into this game. They had more size, more experience, greater depth and more scoring options off the bench. Of course, they also got to play at home. Coach McCallie noted that this game would tell her a bit about how her players would react to a physical opponent, especially coming off an NCAA tournament loss to Texas A&M. That squad, she said, bore some similarities to OSU. Both were undersized teams that nonetheless punished opponents on the boards with their physical style.

The rhythms of this game were unusual. There were a number of extended scoring runs by both teams. Duke took an early lead after a 10-2 run but OSU countered with a 10-0 run of their own. A 17-8 run at the end of the half gave the Cowgirls a surprising halftime lead, but Duke countered with a 25-3 run to open the second half. OSU crept back into the game with a 17-9 run but never got cloesr than 5 points down the stretch. These runs were spurred by any number of factors. For Duke, their scoring jags were aided by crashing the offensive boards, forcing bad shots and preventing OSU from running. For the Cowgirls, their runs came when Duke was struggling to hit jump shots or missed free throws and were generated from fast break points and timely threes from mad bomber Riley.

Duke's starting five was the same from the Anderson game: Chante Black at center, Joy Cheek & Carrem Gay at forward, and Abby Waner & Jasmine Thomas at guard. Oklahoma State's tallest starter was just 6-2 and neither of their bigs were all that quick. The only thing Duke was really doing right initially was crashing the boards. Gay rebounded a missed three from Thomas to open up the scoring, and Jasmine then generated Duke's only first-half transition basket after a steal and dish to Cheek. Riley was cold in the early going for OSU; she was trying to get a measure of Duke's defense and how she could attack it. Initially, she was blowing by Duke defenders for some easy layups before Duke was able to stop that penetration. The scoring went back and forth for the first few minutes of the game before Duke went on its first run, punctuated by stickbacks from Gay and Cheek and an assist from Waner to Cheek.

That jolted OSU a bit as they redoubled their defensive effort. In particular, they were going after Chante Black earlier in her possessions and forcing her to make decisions with the ball. Chante was not up to the task, turning the ball over 4 times in the first half. She wasn't getting the ball back out when the defense collapsed on her. With Duke's big gun neutralized, one could sense the other players starting to tighten up a bit. Duke missed 7 straight shots over the next three minutes to take a 20-16 lead with under nine minutes to go in the half.

Duke was able to push through their slump with free throws from Gay and Jackson. A couple of Cowgirls had already picked up 2 fouls and coach Kurt Budke was using a fairly short bench, so there was obvious concern on his bench. Riley started to heat up down the stretch of the first half. After she missed a shot with Keturah Jackson harrassing her, Riley popped one with KJ in her face to put her team up 25-20. Black countered with a nifty spin move, but a foul on Gay led to 2 OSU free throws. Thomas then drove and lobbed the ball in to Waner under the basket, who batted a nifty touch pass to Black for a score. The Devils forced a shot clock violation and Jackson found Thomas for Duke's first three of the half (they finished 1-11 from long range in the period).

Riley responded by splashing in another long three, and a turnover on a sloppy pass from Cheek led to an easy OSU score. With a bit over four minutes left in the half, OSU led 32-27. KJ attacked a hole in the zone and scored on a drive, and then Waner followed that up by hitting 2 freebies after being fouled on a rebound. Riley then drew the defense in on a drive and passed to a cutting Shaunte Smith to make it 34-31, but Black responded with a stickback. Fouls and fatigue were starting to take a toll on Duke. Gay was out of the game with 2 fouls and Black sat down for a brief rest. As Duke was just trying to make it the second half, their attention wavered and OSU took advantage.

Riley drained another three to make it 37-33. After Krystal Thomas sank a wide-open stickback, KJ picked up her second foul when Riley drove right at her to make it 39-35. Duke put in Bridgette Mitchell after Black missed a layup and Aussie junior hit a short baseline shot to suddenly give OSU a 6-point lead. Black then turned the ball over and Riley hit her fourth three of the half to make it 44-35. She had a chance to score again but missed after Mitchell missed an open jumper. Riley was in a groove, scoring 20 points on 6-12 shooting and dishing out 5 assists. Smith was all over the floor, picking up 11 points and 4 rebounds. Black and Gay combined for 18 points but horrid shooting abounded for Duke. The team shot just 33% from the floor, only outrebounded OSU by 1 and turned the ball over 8 times against a zone. Duke's attempts at a press were getting shredded by Riley's quickness. The most shocking stat of the half was OSU's 18-4 edge in fast break points. They weren't having as much success against Duke's halfcourt defense, but that hardly mattered if Duke didn't have time to set up.

Duke went to that zone to start the second half, and OSU coach Kurt Budke said that this team had prepared for it but obviously struggled. It was Duke's length and ability to take up space that made it difficult to find gaps. Honestly, I had wondered what Duke so long to employ it, given OSU's ability to get to the foul line. The zone generated an immediate turnover, but Waner missed a layup in traffic after picking off a pass. Duke got the rebound and Thomas hit Cheek spotting up for a three. That injected some life into a crowd that had up to that point been fairly moribund. Smith stuck back a Riley miss to extend the lead to 46-38 with 18:32 to go. The Cowgirls wouldn't score for the next six minutes as Duke put up 20 straight points.

The points weren't necessarily pretty ones. Gay and Black had back-to-back-to-back stickbacks to tie the game at 46. OSU's Kristin Hernandez went out of the game with her 4th foul at the 14:56 mark and the Cowgirls missed her offense. Thomas hit Black inside for the go ahead score, then Smith threw the ball away. In the game's best sequence of passing, Duke got the ball into Black, she passed it back out and kept moving positions until finally she had the ball on the baseline, flipped it behind her to Waner and watched as Abby drained the open three. After 2 key missed foul shots, Jasmine tracked down the rebound and hit Waner for another three to make it 54-46 for the Devils. Duke was now getting every rebound. Black grabbed a miss by Gay and stuck it back for her 12 point of the half, prompting a time-out. Another missed 3 by Riley led to KJ hitting Thomas in transition to make it 58-46 with under thirteen minutes left.

Duke went a little deeper into its bench and brought out Karima Christmas, who promptly grabbed a Waner miss and scored when Waner saw her cutting to the basket. OSU got right back into the game with back-to-back threes, but Christmas kept the game out of the Cowgirls' reach with a stickback, making it 62-53 with under ten minutes to play. Duke had all sorts of chances to really put the game away at this point, but kept letting OSU draw closer. Duke started taking quick shots, ignored Black inside and started missing free throws. A Riley trey with 7:25 left made it 62-56. Black singlehandedly kept her team ahead, scoring 8 points in a three minute span. By that time, she had so much confidence that she was scoring with 2 players hanging off of her. Despite that effort, the game wasn't really over until Jasmine sank a huge three pointer with 1:54 left. It was free throws all the way down from there as Duke continued to play tough defense.

Duke outscored OSU by 18 in the second half because they cut off their transition game (just 3 points), pressed their rebounding advantage (17-6 edge in second chance points) and dominated inside. They held OSU to 29% shooting in the second half as Riley shot 3-16 from the floor. Cheek and Gay also held Smith in check, as she scored just 3 points. Duke had best get used to that zone, since nearly every opponent Duke faces will be using it to test Duke's shooting. The Devils must respond by probing the zone for weaknesses instead of chucking early in the shot clock. The Devils lost patience at times during this game, going for home-run plays when simple plays and intense effort were all that was needed. As I noted, Duke had a lot of advantages heading into this game but couldn't find a way to exploit them in concert until the second half. Cameron came alive during Duke's big run and that energized the players. The team will continue to set about shaking off rust when they play Maine on Sunday.

Duke Zone Lassos Cowgirls, 77-68
Team Box
Duke Zone Lassos Cowgirls, 77-68
Player by Player

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