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Duke Escapes USC (Again), 78-72
Game Recap
Duke Escapes USC (Again), 78-72
Photo Gallery
Duke Escapes USC (Again), 78-72
By Rob Clough
December 6, 2009


Player Stats and Commentary

Krystal Thomas


Krystal was neutralized by 6-5 Kari Laplante and Cooper's double-team scheme, a defense that took away Duke's plan to play from inside-out. In the second half, Krystal at least made an effort to at least try and get shots, which resulted in a huge assist to Jasmine Thomas for a three. That greater activity also seemed to fire her up on the defensive end, as she stepped up her rebounding and physical presence. She will need to be more aggressive in moments like this and continue to demand the ball.

Joy Cheek


One must credit Joy for plugging away when she was taking bad shots and turning the ball over. In past games, she might have just faded into the background altogether. Joy said that in this game, she found a way to calm down and try to have fun, because that's when she's most relaxed on the floor. The two jumpers she hit in the second half were huge, especially the shot that put Duke up by 5 with 1:31 left. Of course, she got her kneecap bumped in the celebration after that play ("I'm getting old", she said) and had to walk to the locker room, but she was fine after the game. Joy also hit a couple of free throws that tied the game up at 56. Duke still needs her to do much more, and to do it more consistently, but the end of this game was a step in the right direction.

Bridgette Mitchell


B was up and down like a yo-yo in this game. The good news for her is that she is very much a "next play" sort of player, and didn't focus on her many errors. She took bad shots, missed easy shots, committed bad fouls and turned the ball over. In the second half, she gave Duke a huge lift with a steal & layup, a turnaround jumper in the post and a stickback after several offensive rebounds. Mitchell also perfectly finished an inbounds play for a score and grabbed a couple of tough rebounds. Simply put, she played through her errors and went on to make great things happen. As a senior, one hopes that she is able to think through some of her decisions a bit more carefully in future games.

Keturah Jackson


KJ was awful in the first half, missing two easy shots and getting screened out as USC got whatever shot it wanted. In the second half, she played like the fifth-year senior she is, the one that was so poised against Ohio State. She finished two strong drives as well as a fast break basket, made things much tougher on Corral (who had only 7 points in the second half after ripping Duke for 19 in the first), hit the boards and forced turnovers. When KJ is aggressive but smart on offense, that makes things much easier for Jasmine, who is a more effective scorer when her teammates are hitting their own shots.

Jasmine Thomas


Just another day at the office for Ms. Thomas, who once again had a gunslinger battle with a highly-regarded guard and once again emerged victorious. After she was quiet during the first 12 minutes of the game, she erupted for a couple of finishes off the dribble and a three, and ended the half with a pull-up jumper and 4 points from the foul line. She was even better in the second half, as she scored 7 straight points to give Duke the lead. She scored 6 points and had 2 assists to finish the game. Jasmine finished a point shy of her career high of 29, played solid defense and started attacking the basket when it was obvious her jump shot wasn't falling. For the fourth game in a row, she's played like an All-American and Naismith candidate, imposing her will on the game.

Allison Vernerey


Allison fought her way to her first career double-double, but I imagine it certainly won't be her last. She struggled at times in this game, missing a couple of wide-open layups and turning the ball over on several occasions. That didn't take any of the aggressiveness out of her, and she actually got tougher as the game went on. She had two key scores late in the game when Duke was starting to take control, battled her way into getting rebound after rebound, stayed out of foul trouble and even wisely got rid of the ball down the stretch when USC was looking to foul. Vernerey's free throw form continues to be rather awkward in every respect, from her initial stance to the way she releases the ball. Duke really needs to remake her shooting form soon, because she is going to get a number of cracks at the foul line.

Shay Selby


Shay didn't hustle down the floor quickly enough on her first defensive possession, and she gave up an open three. She atoned for that later in the game with a couple of aggressive steals and tough overall defense. Shay also had an assist to Jasmine for a three.

Karima Christmas


Karima was the key to this game. When the team needed someone to step up, Karima sparked the team and then fed off the energy of the crowd to make play after play. She still hasn't found her three point stroke, but she she hit 2 tough short jumpers and attacked the basket on two drives. She got to the foul line, forced jump balls, grabbed 4 offensive rebounds and ballhawked her way to 4 steals. Karima was everywhere, proving to be a matchup nightmare for USC (as she can be for many opponents). This is the kind of focus she needs to have at all times during games--Karima up to 11, as it were--because Karima on a lower level of energy can be reduced to being a simple jump shooter. When she exploits her quickness and explosiveness (especially as a frontcourt player), she's difficult to deal with because of her strength.

Chelsea Hopkins


Chelsea did a decent job of buying time for Jasmine and playing defense; she also had an assist for Jasmine in transition. She did take an awkward shot trying to get to the basket and clearly is not 100% physically yet.

Kathleen Scheer


Kathleen did well as a decoy but also had a great entry pass to Cheek, which helped get her going.

Duke Escapes USC (Again), 78-72
Game Recap
Duke Escapes USC (Again), 78-72
Photo Gallery

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