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Devils Outduke the Dukes, 79-65
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Devils Outduke the Dukes, 79-65
Player by Player
Devils Outduke the Dukes, 79-65
By Rob Clough
December 18, 2009

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Game Recap


This game was definitely a potential danger zone game for Duke, given their mental errors on the road against Stanford and an opponent in James Madison that was hungry to prove themselves against another ACC opponent. The Dukes had already defeated Virginia Tech and Virginia, the latter opponent on the road. They did come in at a bit of a disadvantage in this game with the health scare suffered by team leader Dawn Evans, who came into the contest averaging 26 ppg. She had a kidney ailment that forced her to sit out a week, but fortunately for her (and college basketball in general), it turned out to be an easily treatable condition. Evans wasn't quite 100% in this game, and one could tell that she was tiring a bit from the way her shots looked. That said, she still managed to drop 31 points on the Blue Devils and shot 12-27 from the field. The Devils did manage to keep her off the foul line, where she's done so much damage against opponents in the past.

For Duke's part, they pressed their matchup advantages nicely by pounding the boards (+10 for the game), being physical while (mostly) avoiding silly fouls, and using their size to effectively press the Dukes into 21 turnovers. Duke's 19-6 edge in points off turnovers and 15-5 advantage in second-chance points proved decisive, and the final score might have been much more decisive if the Devils hadn't been so horrendous at the foul line (21-38). Duke won despite not scoring a single field goal in the last 8:40 of the game and just 9 points overall. The Devils had built such a huge lead that they were able to withstand a bunch of errors on the offensive end, while still maintaining their focus defensively and on the boards.

The two teams traded the lead during the first four minutes of the game. Keturah Jackson scored on a stickback and a fast break, while Evans drove and then rose up for a 25' jump shot as she brought the ball up. This wasn't an Andrea Riley-style chuck at the basket--this was a shot taken in stride, with feet squared. Coach Kenny Brooks noted that he had tried to tell her to watch the line earlier in her career, but her unlimited range changed his mind. Evans noted that she really doesn't watch her feet when she's shooting. Instead, she checks to see if she has a good shot lined up and if her defender is sagging off of her. Since most defenders will tend not to get up in someone's face 25-30' away from the hoop, Evans gets off a number of these shots. At the same time, she's not a chucker. She works to set up the offense or drive to the basket. Jasmine Thomas noted that Evans is tough to guard because she's so unpredictable. McCallie had compared her to Kristi Toliver earlier in the week, but they knew Toliver's body language well enough to know when she was going to shoot. With Evans, the had the stony face of a pitcher with a baffling pickoff move.

After a tough game against Stanford, Joy Cheek started off nicely with a turnaround jumper from 15' and a three off a pass from J.Thomas. That pushed Duke ahead 9-8 and was part of a 14-2 run that gave Duke some breathing room. Duke threw on its press at that point, and KJ got immediate results with a steal and pass to Karima Christmas. She followed that up with a quick inbounds pass to Bridgette Mitchell (who came off the bench tonight) and a 15' baseline jumper. Every attempt by JMU to strike back was countered nicely by the Devils: a JMU three was followed by an Allison Vernerey three point play, and an Evans layup was followed by another three from Cheek. Mitchell pulled up for a 15' jumper and then found Cheek for an elbow jumper to put Duke up 30-17 with 9:22 to go in the half.

Solid forward Sarah Williams went around a screen for a three, but Jasmine Thomas (who had been quiet offensively but had been a monster on the boards) drove in for a layup, Christmas drove in for a teardrop layup, and then Jasmine hit Krystal Thomas inside for a score. The Devils were up 36-20 and on the verge of taking complete control. JMU scored after an offensive rebound, and Evans drained a trey after Christmas took a quick three at the other end. Kathleen Scheer, who was effective in trapping and making it difficult for JMU to shoot over her, hit a three to make it 39-25. Unfortunately, Duke started to get in foul trouble, as Cheek, Jackson and Vernerey all sat out the final few minutes of the first half with 2 fouls apiece. Duke limped toward the conclusion of the half as Evans hit what seemed to be a 28' shot with 16 seconds left. Duke was very disorganized on offense during this stretch as they turned the ball over 3 times and took some weird shots. There was one possession where Jasmine seemed to actively avoid wanting the ball in her hands.

The Devils led by just 10 at the half, despite overwhelming advantages in the paint (22-4). Evans single-handedly kept her team in the game with 18 points and 4-6 shooting from three. The Dukes as a whole shot an incredible 75% from three in the half, while shooting just 6-25 from inside the arc. That's a testament to the brilliant play of Krystal Thomas, who dominated on defense in ways that were sometimes hard to quantify. When she wasn't blocking shots, she was altering them. She bodied players up without fouling them. Cheek had 10 points and Jasmine flirted with a triple double in the first half alone.

The Dukes pulled within 8 points early in the second half, but the Devils went on a 17-4 run to take complete command of the game. Jasmine nailed a three to put Duke up by double figures, and then Cheek took over. She hit 2 free throws, found KJ for a three (her first of the season), went baseline on a drive, hit a couple of more free throws, sank a pretty reverse layup and then got a stickback. Along the way, the Devils started to draw foul after foul on JMU's frontcourt, which was starting to spring some serious leaks. It got to the point where Brooks had to top Rachel Connely, who had played all of 6 minutes the whole year.

As Duke was punishing JMU during that run, the Dukes started to look tired. Evans started to miss some shots badly. Shay Selby and J.Thomas both hit some jumpers, Christmas found K.Thomas going in for a score, and Selby drove in for a basket to put Duke up 70-47. At that point, the Dukes got off the mat and started to fight back. They went on a 15-2 run over the next four minutes as Duke missed 5 shots and started to pile up fouls. After that run, JMU could draw no closer as Duke hit just enough free throws and played good enough defense to slow down their opponent. Evans scored just 4 more points during the first twelve minutes of the half, but had 9 more points down the stretch, including a couple of more incredible long-range bombs. When she left the game with 31 seconds left, the crowd at Cameron gave a rare standing ovation to a worthy opponent. Attendance was announced at just over 3000 on a snowy night, and the holiday fans were active and vocal. Overall, Duke did a decent job against one of the top guards in the country, pressing their advantages and wearing down their opponent. The experience will come in handy later in the season against other quality opponents.



Devils Outduke the Dukes, 79-65
Team Box
 
Devils Outduke the Dukes, 79-65
Player by Player

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