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Devils Gouge #3 Buckeyes, 83-67
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Devils Gouge #3 Buckeyes, 83-67
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Devils Gouge #3 Buckeyes, 83-67
By Rob Clough
December 3, 2009

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Game Recap


I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Duke's victory over Ohio State was the most complete win of the McCallie era. Against the #3 team in the country, the Devils asserted themselves on offense, went deep into the bench to find a number of contributors, and forced one of the nation's most efficient offensive squads out of their comfort zone. OSU coach Jim Foster noted that his team simply didn't react well to Duke's physicality, and his team didn't adjust when Jasmine Thomas went on a second-half rampage. The real key to the game was the way Duke keyed in on superstar point guard Samantha Prahalis. Averaging 10 apg and 3 turnovers coming into this game, the Devils frustrated her into 8 turnovers (against 8 assists) and baited her into foul trouble. It was no coincidence that Duke went on a huge run after Prahalis picked up her fourth foul. Even when she came back in a minute later, she was a shell of herself on the floor.

Prahalis may have also unintentionally motivated Jasmine and Duke early in the second half, when the Buckeyes took a brief lead. After Jasmine picked up a foul on a Duke turnover play, Prahalis appeared to get into her face and made a comment. After that moment, Jasmine scored 24 points off the dribble, in the paint and from pull-up jumpers. With about two minutes left, Prahalis came up to J.Thomas and fouled her, as though to get herself out of the game. Prahalis acknowledged in post-game interviews that the play was "stupid" and that being unable to drive with her fourth foul affected her mentally.

Duke's mission in this game was to contain Prahalis and make All-America center Jantel Lavender work hard for her points. She struggled a bit in the early minutes as Duke jumped out to an early 8-6 lead. Joy Cheek exploited her one-on-one matchup with Sarah Schulze to score twice in the post, but turned her ankle five minutes into the game and went to the locker room. Moments before that occurred, Bridgette Mitchell picked up her second foul and went to the bench. Prahalis was penetrating Duke's defense and hitting some early shots of her own to keep it close.
Duke Freshman Allison Vernerey goes
past OSU's Jantel Lavender in the paint

Over the next five minutes, Duke rode frosh Allison Vernerey in the post as the Buckeyes also started to get into a nice offensive rhythm. Rookie Tayler Hill hit a couple of triples as Duke started to have trouble closing out on OSU's shooters. The good news for Duke is that Vernerey was ready to attack, and she scored 8 straight points for the Devils to keep things close. Jim Foster was distressed at how poorly his team matched up against her, even though they knew she was a lefty. To her credit, Vernerey quickly recognized situations where OSU was overplaying her left hand, adjusting to also hit a couple of right-handed hooks. After the Buckeyes took a 17-16 lead, Jasmine tore down the court off a Krystal Thomas steal, getting the hoop and the harm.

Ohio State was scoring in large part because they controlled the boards thoroughly in the first half, getting 7 offensive rebounds to just 2 for Duke. Schulze hit 2 free throws to tie the game at 19, but Shay Selby came off the bench to give her team a huge boost. After it looked like OSU was about to get yet another offensive rebound, she dove to the floor near midcourt, dug it out, and passed it. KJ pulled up and nailed a short jumper (looking enormously confident), and one could sense momentum swinging Duke's way as a result.

After a Krystal Thomas block, Shay pulled up from the wing and drained a three. The two teams went back and forth, as Lavender hit some shots & Brittany Johnson hit a three, while J.Thomas pulled up to hit a jumper. Karima Christmas had a steal & runout to put Duke up 28-24, but the Devils wouldn't hit another field goal in the last 3:31 of the half. At that point in the game, the foul discrepancy between the two teams was 8 for Duke and 1 for Ohio State. After one play where it seemed an OSU player got away with a push, McCallie lit into the officials during a time-out. Both the crowd and the refs responded as OSU was rung up for 3 fouls in the remaining three minutes of the half, including Prahalis' second foul. The Devils went up 31-25 thanks to strong defense and foul shots by Jackson and K.Thomas, but Lavender scored with 9 seconds left to draw OSU within 4. Selby just missed a buzzer-beating shot at the end of the half.

Duke was outrebounded by 9 in the first half, but that was offset by being +6 on turnovers. While OSU didn't pressure the ball, the fact that Duke only coughed it up only 6 times was impressive. The eye-opening stat was Duke's 18-8 advantage in points in the paint; most of OSU's points came from jump shots while Duke's jump shots weren't falling. That would change in the second half. The Devils were also +7 in points off turnovers, which also fueled their 6-3 edge in fast break points.
Jasmine Thomas scored a career
high 29, 22 in the second half

Cheek continued to sit as the second half began, with Vernerey taking her place. Duke briefly boosted their lead to 33-27, but then their big lineup started to have problems closing out on shooters. Johnson hit back-to-back treys to tie the score at 33, but Karima Christmas dug deep to get a stickback of a Krystal Thomas miss. Mitchell then fouled Schulze while shooting a three, and she made all 3 shots to give OSU the lead. After that, Jasmine Thomas, who had a quiet 2-8 first half from the field, fouled former Duke target Hill. Prahalis appeared to say something to Jaz after that play and it was a real turning point. Fired up, Jasmine found Krystal for her first field goal. Schulze fired back with a three after a beautiful penetration-and-pitch from Prahalis.

Jasmine responded with a pull-up three off a screen at the top of the key, and it was obvious that she was ready to take over. Selby came in and picked Prahalis' pocket and dished to Jasmine, who got the basket and drew Prahalis' third foul. That gave Duke the lead at 43-41, a lead they would never relinquish. KJ came up with a steal off a lazy pass from Hill and scored to make it 45-41. Hill drained a trey, but KJ responded with another smooth pull-up jumper. Prahalis threw threw the ball away as OSU went to a zone, but Karima Christmas found a gap and drove in for a score. Vernerey picked off a Prahalis entry pass and Jasmine popped in for another short jumper. She noted that attacking the basket more in the second half, instead of just settling for jumpers, was the key to her success. That made it 51-44 six minutes into the half.

Ohio State responded with another score by Lavender and a three from Schulze, both assisted by Prahalis. Duke started to sweep the backboards with more authority, especially K.Thomas, and that helped set up a score by Vernerey to make it 53-49. Prahalis then tried to turn the corner and plowed over Shay Selby. She was whistled for her fourth foul, sparking an 8-0 run for Duke. Selby took a turn running point and fired in a perfect pass for Vernerey. Thomas then hit a couple of free throws, stole the ball and scored. Mitchell sank a key baseline jumper after she grabbed a big rebound, and then drained a huge three after Prahalis came back into the game and sank a trey.

With about ten minutes left, Duke led 64-52. The Buckeyes scored 5 in a row (including a three point play by Lavender), but Selby fearlessly split the defense and scored. That was a key basket for Duke, as it was their only score during that four minute period. Lavender hit 2 foul shots to pull OSU within 66-61 with six minutes left. Jasmine pulled up and sank a momentum-swinging three, Schulze missed the front end of a one-and-one (which Vernerey snagged) as the Devils delivered a knockout 12-0 run. Jasmine was simply awesome here, swooping in for a steal/runout/plus one and pulling up for a 15' jumper. Prahalis fouled her with 2:17 left, getting herself out of the game and essentially waving a white flag for the Bucks.

Ohio State came in averaging 89 ppg, shooting 49% from the field and 44% from three. In this game, they were held to 67 points, 37% from the field and 42% from three. Honestly, their three point shooting was the one thing that kept them in the game, but Foster noted that OSU's lack of physicality turned the game into a "shooting contest". That was demonstrated quite convincingly with the points in the paint: Duke had a stunning 46-10 edge in the final tally. That was fueled by a 27-9 edge in points off turnovers. I've never seen a McCallie Duke team run so effectively (18 fast break points) or so efficiently (only 11 turnovers). Again, Ohio State is not a team that applies a lot of defensive pressure and Prahalis was certainly limited thanks to her foul trouble, but the overall ballhandling and decision-making for Duke simply seemed sharper than usual. Part of that can be attributed to having a healthy Selby & Jackson on the floor making smart passes and giving Jasmine a chance to hunt her shot.

Lavender wound up with 20 points and 18 rebounds, but shot 7-18 from the field. The two-headed center combo of K.Thomas and Vernerey combined for 19 points and 21 rebounds, as well as 6 blocks. Duke's bench wound up being a big factor, outscoring OSU 28-2. Foster bemoaned his bench's lack of productivity in this game and named it as one of the major keys to Duke's win. It will be interesting to see how Duke responds from this high to play again on Sunday, especially with exams looming. Southern Cal, an unranked squad with upsets over top 25 foes Texas and Mississippi State, will be an enormous test of the team's focus. It was Duke's focus and commitment at both ends of the floor that made this such a strong win, as the Devils' intensity never really flagged. As long as they keep playing, as Coach P said, like "Tasmanian devils" on defense, Duke will be in a position to win a large number of games.



Devils Gouge #3 Buckeyes, 83-67
Team Box
 
Devils Gouge #3 Buckeyes, 83-67
Player by Player

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