The Nutshell by Orin Day
After trailing USC by double digits midway through the second half, Duke made a remarkable comeback last night in Los Angeles. When Duke was forced to foul, USC responded by making only 2-7 free throws down the stretch, and Abby Waner seized the moment. With 17 seconds left Abby pulled Duke to within one with a trademark off-balance three. After USC made 1 of 2 at the line, Abby drove to the hoop and scored with just 3 seconds left, knotting the game at 82. Carrem Gay intercepted the Trojan inbound pass and heaved the ball at the basket, but it fell short atnd the game went to overtime.
In the extra period Duke's defense was suffocating and the Devils cruised to a 97-89 victory over the noticeably deflated Southern Cal squad. Chante Black and Jasmine Thomas combined for 11 of Duke's 15 points, and led all scorers with 22 apiece. Three other Blue Devils and five Women of Troy also cracked double figures. Carrem Gay bounced back from a tough outing against Stanford with a double double: 14 points and 12 rebounds, 9 on the offensive glass. Shay Selby scored a career high 11 including two threes, and Waner finished with 10. The turnover bug returned to bite Duke, with 29 miscues versus only 8 assists, but more solid shooting (43%, 5-6 in OT) and 20 offensive boards gave Duke enough second chances to keep it close until Waner's heroics.
The Nutshell by Rob Clough
This was as unlikely a win imaginable for Duke, though their 17 point comeback
against Southern California was born out of what had brought Duke its other
wins this season. A relentless press, dominance on the boards (and plenty of
second chance scoring opportunities) and quality depth eventually wore down an
extremely game and precise USC club. Like in other close games this year, Duke
went through long periods of sloppiness punctuated by shorter, devastating runs.
Down 30-18 in the first half, Duke went on a 13-0 run over just three minutes.
Down 17 points in the second half, Duke went on a 15-3 run over a four minute
span. Finally, down 79-69 with 2:36 left, the Devils staged yet another rally,
this time to the turn of 13-3 to send the game into overtime. By that time,
USC was exhausted and Duke quickly took control.
While Abby Waner hit a number
of clutch shots and Chante Black wound up with 22 points, the real story of the
game was the breakout performances of Jasmine Thomas (22 points), Shay Selby
(11 points) and Carrem Gay (14 points, 12 rebounds). Despite many errors (a
horrendous 29 turnovers), foul trouble (Black sat out nearly 8 minutes) and
frequent inattention to detail, the team pulled it together when they had to
and remained a tight unit. Duke found out what they needed to do in order to
win; however, the team and staff as a whole has yet to demonstrate the
dominance that they all talked about earlier in the season. The final verdict
on that matter won't come until later in the season.