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Toliver and Terps Top Duke, 77-59
Team Box
 
Toliver and Terps Top Duke, 77-59
Player by Player
Toliver and Terps Top Duke, 77-59
By Rob Clough
February 22, 2009

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Game Recap


The loss to Maryland was disheartening but not necessarily puzzling. The way the two teams are configured, Maryland is very difficult to press for extended periods, especially when they have a lead. Duke's press is intimidating but gambles to the point where its transition defense is often quite poor. When Kristi Toliver established that she wasn't going to miss open shots early in the game, Duke had an uphill battle to fight. The problem is that Duke stopped fighting after that Maryland run to begin the second half. In a virtual repeat of the debacle in Chapel Hill, the Devils' body language against a ranked opponent on the road immediately took on a defeated look when faced with a scoring run.

This was especially frustrating against the Terps, given their historic lack of defensive pressure. Their run at the beginning of the first half was largely fueled by 3 Duke turnovers that they converted into 7 points. While Duke made a couple of mini-runs, they never really threatened the Terps. Once again, Duke's lack of cohesion on defense in the half killed them, as did a lack of focus and intensity. It's one thing to see Toliver drain contested threes; there's not much that can be done about that. It's quite another to see her have all day to set up and shoot, especially when no Duke player bothers to even put a hand in her face. The Terps have had their share of chemistry issues since Shay Doron left, but on this day their small rotation looked rock-solid and it was Duke that looked fragmented.

Maryland looked tight to start the game and the Devils looked like a team with a plan. Duke won the first game by pounding the offensive boards and frustrating the Terps into taking bad jump shots. The Devils did a great job keeping them out of the lane and off the foul line. In this game, Duke did a great job initially of setting up the elbow jumper for Carrem Gay and Chante Black, which opened up a few high-low plays. Duke held an early 12-6 lead and then managed to match shots with Toliver when she started heating up; Abby Waner matched a three with a trey of her own from the wing. The score stayed close for the rest of the half. Toliver put her team ahead, but Duke stayed patient and found ways to score. Promisingly, Black and Jasmine Thomas scored 4 straight from the foul line and Joy Cheek had a couple of timely baskets off the bench.

The score was tied at 31 in the final minute of the half, and Maryland's Dee Liles had a wide-open layup that rimmed out. Duke grabbed the board and got 4 cracks at the basket before Bridgette Mitchell finally cashed in to make it 33-31. Maryland had shot poorly (just 28%) and the Devils reasonably well (37%), but the Devils owned a huge edge in points in the paint (18-8). Two things kept Maryland in the game: Toliver's 17 points and the team's 10-13 shooting from the foul line. Both factors heralded disturbing trends for Duke.

A fired-up Terp squad squeezed off a 10-0 run to start the second half, and Duke simply couldn't keep up. Coleman and Toliver combined to score the first 28 points of the half for Maryland, but rather than try a triangle-and-two or other junk defense, Duke stayed in a halfhearted man-to-man and was burned repeatedly. Keturah Jackson and Carrem Gay (Duke's most effective player on the day) teamed up for an 8-0 run of their own to cut a 15 point lead to 7, but Duke then went four minutes without another point and Maryland pushed its lead back up to 15. Duke never seriously challenged again.

Essentially, every facet of the game that's defined Duke's identity was absent in the second half. The tough-as-nails defense surrendered 46 points at an absurd 62% clip. Maryland was +5 on the boards and neutralized Duke's usual advantages in terms of second-chance points. Both teams had 18 turnovers, except that this was a low giveaway total for Maryland and a high takeaway total, and they took advantage. A Maryland team without great footspeed had a 10-0 advantage in fast break points. When you throw in Maryland's usual strengths (scoring, passing) and a bit of interior defense (8 blocked shots), the result was a recipe for winning.

One admittedly small bright spot: Duke has shown they can learn from losses and refocus with a minimum of hangover. They'll need that to gain momentum for the postseason. At this point, getting a 4 seed wouldn't be a bad thing for Duke. If FSU hangs on to its 1 seed, that will likely leave UNC and Maryland as the 2 and 3 seeds. Given that Duke dominated most of their matchup with FSU on the road and the historic lack of support the Seminoles have received at the ACC tournament, and this could be an ideal matchup for Duke. The Devils need to beat Wake Forest to wrap up that fourth seed.



Toliver and Terps Top Duke, 77-59
Team Box
 
Toliver and Terps Top Duke, 77-59
Player by Player

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