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Duke Reverses the Noles, 75-57
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Duke Reverses the Noles, 75-57
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Duke Reverses the Noles, 75-57
By Rob Clough
March 7, 2009

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Game Recap


The challenge for Duke against Virginia was shutting down two offensive superstars. The challenge for Duke against Florida State was finding ways to score against a team nearly as stingy as the Blue Devils at the defensive end. In both games, Duke was successful being anyone's wildest expectations. The key factor in their ability to change tactics and adapt so quickly is most likely the team's chemistry. Coach McCallie is now able to play her top nine players fairly interchangeably, with each player ready to make an impact no matter their role. The way that Joy Cheek, Karima Christmas, Krystal Thomas and Keturah Jackson have stepped up to wreak havoc during their game stints has simply overwhelmed the opposition.

Florida State couldn't quite match that depth and were taken aback at the ferocity of Duke's pressure, and as a result made some bad decisions with the ball and got down on themselves when good looks at the basket didn't fall. Meanwhile, Duke was getting dominant rebounding from Chante Black, hustle from Bridgette Mitchell & Carrem Gay, shooting from Abby Waner and all-around great play from Jasmine Thomas. The Seminoles were a long ways away from their boisterous home crowd and only had a few fans in attendance in Greensboro, and they at times looked very lonely out there.

The game was close in the early minutes, though back-to-back threes by Waner and J.Thomas indicated that Duke's shooting prowess was to be taken seriously in this game. Duke took an 8-7 lead and transformed it into a 30-11 margin in a matter of six minutes. Black had 9 of those 20 points, including a three point play and a pass to Mitchell from the high post for a score. An offensive foul by FSU's center Jacinta Monroe with 11:35 left and FSU already trailing 22-11 really hurt the Noles. While they certainly missed her scoring, the real problem was the way her absence opened up the middle for the Devils. Mitchell and Karima Christmas both had stickbacks as FSU no longer had a shotblocker in the game. The play of the game was a sensational lob pass thrown by Waner and caught in even more spectacular fashion by a leaping J.Thomas, who converted. The Devils led 40-18 at the half, holding FSU to 24% shooting and forcing 10 turnovers. Duke shot 53% and kept their turnovers under control.

To start the second half, Duke had to deal with back-to-back threes in transition by FSU. That gave FSU the boost that they needed to claw their way back into the game. They reeled off a 16-3 run; only Gay could get Duke on the board. FSU crawled back to within 9 points when Mara Freshour missed the back half of a one-and-one that Gay (battling foul trouble) rebounded. This game was beginning to resemble the one in Tallahassee that FSU pulled out, complete with Duke allowing wide-open threes and taking ill-advised shots and making ill-advised passes (including an aborted Waner lob inside to Black that went awry). Jasmine Thomas ended the run with a clutch 18' jumper with the shot clock running down that seemed to reinvigorate the Blue Devils. Gay then intercepted a pass and found Waner for a three. Gay stuck back a miss from Christmas after Karima stole the ball, making it 50-34. After Freshour stuck a three, J.Thomas had the answer in the corner to make it 53-37.

After that, FSU never seriously threatened again. Threes by Waner and Christmas served to lengthen the game a bit further, and a Cheek steal & layup triggered a late 6-0 run that made it 73-49 with under four minutes to play. Coach McCallie sent in the deep reserves and Duke got to the finals of the ACC tournament with no player having seen more than 29 minutes of play. Chante Black wound up playing just 24 minutes after a collision that whacked her funny bone. Duke's top nine players all got at least twelve minutes of play each, which helped massage Duke through foul trouble to players like Gay and Cheek. Florida State, one of the best-shooting teams from three in the ACC, wound up a miserable 7-23 from long range, while Duke shot a sizzling 7-12. Really, the key word for Duke in this game was efficiency. They turned 11 offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points; FSU had 15 offensive boards but could only muster 10 points. By the same token, Duke turned 15 FSU turnovers into 20 points, while FSU could only come up with 11 points off 16 Duke turnovers. Duke will be rested, at full strength and on a roll as they look to both avenge their biggest second-half flop of the year and take their first championship in five seasons.



Duke Reverses the Noles, 75-57
Team Box
 
Duke Reverses the Noles, 75-57
Player by Player

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