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Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
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Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
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Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
By Rob Clough
January 25, 2009

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Game Recap


Duke's last loss to Georgia Tech came in 1994, when a young Duke squad was trying for only their second-ever NCAA tournament berth. Though the Jackets have given Duke some battles since then, the Devils have always prevailed. This particular match-up was interesting because Tech had just beaten UNC in Atlanta, a game marked by intensely physical play and great rebounding on their part. The Jackets had the athletes to give Duke problems, but they did have some matchup problems. For example, their style of play creates scoring either off the dribble or off of turnovers, with few assists otherwise. For a team like Duke's it's easy to force bad shots in such a scheme, given their size, length and quickness. Tech also doesn't have a true-low post presence at either end of the floor. Their two frosh posts, Sasha Goodlett and Laquanisha Adams, combined for just 4 points and 1 rebound. The question for Duke coming into this game was, could the Devils break through the press to get some easy baskets? The secondary question was, can Duke hit open shots when Tech's zone allows it?

The answer to both questions was "yes". Duke got the game off to a nice start when Abby Waner scored right after a contested opening tip. Both teams contested shots nicely all game long, went after lazy passes and allowed no layups. It was simply going to be a matter of who executed the basics a bit better. Keturah Jackson hit two very long jumpers (not quite threes--foot was on the line) to push Duke to a 6-1 early lead four minutes into the game. A minute or two before, both Duke's Chante Black and Tech's Alex Montgomery (the leading scorers for their respective teams) quickly picked up two fouls. The Jackets missed Montgomery, a do-it-all player, more than Duke missed Black as they they went on a 7-0 run to go up 13-3. Waner hit a three and found Joy Cheek on a cut, and Jasmine Thomas went baseline to score. Duke was deploying a small lineup, subbing in Carrem Gay and Karima Christmas instead of bringing the bigger Krystal Thomas into the game at that point. Gay responded with some of her best play of the year, grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. She sank a rare three on a feed from J.Thomas to make the score 16-5.

My over-under for combined turnovers in the game was 50, given that both teams force a lot of turnovers (Duke is #1 in the country at forcing steals) and neither team has conventionally steady point guard play. As it turns out, 50 was the exact number of turnovers committed in the game. The difference in the first half was shooting. Tech was a putrid 4-22, while Duke shot a sizzling 13-23, including 3-7 from three. Black returned with under eight minutes to go and Duke nursing a 19-9 lead. She finished a couple of plays generated by fine passing: a slicing drive by Jackson and drop-off to Black, and a great catch & touch pass by Waner back to Black. Duke had their chances to really blow out the Jackets in the half, but their own turnover problems (5 in the last five minutes of the half alone) made that difficult. They made up for it by completing some high degree-of-difficulty shots, like a twisting reverse layup by Waner after she corralled an offensive rebound. That sparked a 7-0 run that pushed Duke's lead to 30-11. Jasmine Thomas hit a three on a pass from Shay Selby, and then Jasmine stole the ball and fed Jackson in transition. The key stat in the half, and the game overall, was points off turnovers. While Tech was able to turn the Devils over 13 times in the half, they were only able to generate 2 points. On the other hand, the Devils scored 20 points off 16 Tech miscues.

The Jackets quickly started to get frustrated in the second half, and things boiled over when Montgomery was whistled for a technical after mouthing off to an official. That, and solid defense, helped Duke through eight minutes with only five field goal attempts. The Devils broke out of that with a 10-0 run that gave them what seemed to be an impregnable 44-17 lead with eleven minutes left. Waner and J.Thomas sank threes, while K.Thomas found Black on a high-low delivery. The Jackets missed 6 shots and committed 6 turnovers during that span. The Devils then lost focus and Tech made a 10-0 run of their own, as Montgomery scored 8 quick points.

The game felt much closer than it actually was reflected on the scoreboard, and one got the sense that Tech's relentless full court press could make up some more of that margin. Duke took a time-out, everyone took a breath and refocused, and two veterans made a great play. Jackson beat the press, beat her defender and dished off to to Black for the score. A few plays later, Tech was whistled for a deadball technical and that was all he wrote. That became part of a 13-2 Duke run that mostly featured free throws but also saw a nifty Cheek drive that split the pressuring defenders.

This game was a kind of shock treatment for a Duke team that looked bored and complacent since they defeated Maryland. It was important for them to both flex their defensive muscles and score a few points, considering how tough the upcoming schedule is. Duke will have a showdown with Florida State in Tallahassee next, the only other team in the ACC with an undefeated league record (5-0). The Devils then face a solid BC team at home and then get to the rest of the meat of the schedule: UNC and Virginia on the road. This will be the stretch of games that will likely determine how Duke finishes in the ACC this year.



Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
Team Box
 
Duke D Dominates Jackets, 60-34
Player by Player

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