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#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
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#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
Player by Player
#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
By Rob Clough
January 18, 2010

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Game Recap


What makes UConn so successful beyond the obvious of having two former #1 high school recruits is their unshakable commitment to acting as a team and their formidable ability to prevent their opponents from doing the same. Even when Duke was still in reach, it had more to do with individual effort than the collective actions of the team. UConn is not a team that unleashes frantic full-court presses or tricky half-court traps to generate turnovers. Instead, they exert a subtle but consistent pressure not only on the ball, but every player off the ball as well. In the first half, Duke had 12 turnovers. Five of them were travels, two were offensive fouls, two were passes thrown out of bounds and UConn's three steals were passes that were thrown too hard at Duke teammates. There was little ballhawking going on, just a heightened awareness of what Duke was going to do and then being prepared when the Devils self-destructed.

Duke's mission in this game was to limit the touches of UConn MVP Tina Charles, who has been destroying teams who faced her with single coverage of late. Duke doubled her and tried to prevent likely NPOY Maya Moore from attacking the basket. UConn hadn't shot all that well from long range recently, and the hope was to force them to put up shots they weren't comfortable with. Duke let Moore get comfortable in the early going as she drained an early three, but foul trouble limited her to 12 first-half minutes and just 3 further points. Charles was also limited to 6 points but still pulled down 7 rebounds. Geno inserted hulking post Kaili Mclaren next to Charles as a way of pulling some attention away from Charles, and Mclaren did a solid job.

The Devils hung around early when Joy Cheek (starting in the post against Charles) sank a three and Jasmine Thomas drove past UConn's defenders for a couple of short jumpers. Duke was within 10-7 and had the ball, but a Cheek turnover led to a Caroline Doty three. Jasmine brought Duke within 5 as she sank a three, while a turnaround jumper from Cheek made it 18-13 in favor of UConn with 10:32 remaining in the half. Moore sank a three, but Bridgette Mitchell swooped in to stick back a miss by Allison Vernerey.

For some reason, Coach P subbed out Jasmine Thomas, the one player who could get any shot she wanted against UConn. The Huskies took advantage with a 6-0 run that gave them a little breathing room. During the run, Mitchell turned the ball over twice (including a horrible offensive foul) and Christmas missed a short jumper and also lost control of the ball. Mclaren and Kalana Greene teamed up to score all 6 points, picking apart the Duke defense with great passing and deadeye mid-range shooting.

Finally, Shay Selby entered the game and had an immediate positive impact. She flew in out of nowhere to stick back a missed three, block a shot, grab a key rebound inside and draw a foul from the elbow-swinging Doty. Duke cut the lead to 29-21 after Jasmine hit another short jumper off a screen and K.Thomas hit 2 foul shots. Doty scored 5 straight points to make it 34-21, but Vernerey drove and pushed in a 5' jumper. Greene got a stickback, but Cheek spotted up and hit a jumper to keep it at 11 points. Tiffany Hayes scored with 2:09 left in the half, but Duke had the last 3 points of the half, including a spectacular Jasmine Thomas drive and layup at the buzzer that made the halftime margin a workable 10 points. Duke was even with UConn on the boards (a team that averages +18 in rebounding) and had a 12-8 edge in second-chance points, but was losing the battle of points off turnovers (11-5) and points in the paint (14-8). Still, it was still a game, and Duke had a real chance to compete in the second half.

Jasmine picked Doty clean for a layup, but UConn patiently swung the ball around and Hayes drained a three. In a matter of questionable shot selection, Keturah Jackson pulled up for a three and missed, but made up for it by diving to the floor after she slapped the ball away from Doty and alertly calling a timeout before UConn could force the jump ball. But Duke wasn't able to capitalize as Jasmine couldn't finish on a drive. UConn made Duke pay with an outlet pass from Charles to Greene, and then Charles blocked KJ. Cheek turned the ball over and Doty drove and was fouled, hitting both. Suddenly, UConn's lead was 45-30 (its largest of the game) and Duke was near the breaking point.

Thomas went left, drove, scored and was fouled, but missed the freebie. Duke got the offensive rebound but Christmas missed a chippie. Moore found Greene inside to make it 15 again, but Jasmine sank a jumper to make it 47-34 with 17:07 left. Charles found Doty for a three and then Doty hit Greene in transition to make it 52-34. Moore committed her third foul but coach Geno Auriemma kept her in the game. Jasmine found Vernerey for a hook shot, but Hayes sank another three to make it 55-36. Jackson answered when she drained a three after Jasmine found her, but back-to-back treys from UConn made it 61-39. Mitchell had a stickback with 13:06 left, plus the foul, to keep it under 20, but the Devils would only score 2 points over the next nine minutes.

As one might imagine, UConn took full advantage here, closing Duke out with a 17-2 run. Duke missed 8 shots and committed 7 turnovers as the Huskies did pretty much whatever they wanted. Another Mitchell three point play and a Cheek foul shot would be the remainder of Duke's scoring, but UConn closed out the game with a three and then a four-point play to make the final margin a painful 33 points. The Huskies held Duke to 14% three point shooting in the second half while shooting an obscene 73% (8-11) from behind the arc.

This was a painful lesson in what happens when a team doesn't focus for 40 minutes, and when individuals try to do too much. At the same time, Coach McCallie made no discernible adjustments at halftime; the same can't be said of Auriemma. Concerned that he had no one who could guard Jasmine one-on-one, he told me that he deliberately brought help over and up to cut off her drives and force her to pass out or reset the offense. It worked well, as Jaz was only 3-10 in the second half with 2 turnovers after scoring 11 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Duke never adjusted to UConn's shooters, even when it was obvious they were all having career nights from long range. Duke did outrebound the Huskies and had a 17-9 edge on the offensive boards, but they couldn't turn hustle into points. There was a startling lack of efficiency as a team, and there weren't any answers being given from the sidelines. The Devils won't encounter another team this good again unless they wind up playing them in the NCAA tournament, but they can draw a lesson from this game in intensity and how it can go hand-in-hand with efficiency.



#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
Team Box
 
#1 Huskies Beat Down Duke, 81-48
Player by Player

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