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Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Team Box
 
Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Player by Player
Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
By Rob Clough
January 25, 2010

  NUTSHELL     BOX     RECAP     PLAYERS  

Game Recap


The good news for Duke is that this edition of the team is clearly the toughest and most physical I've ever seen. Defensively, they can go toe-to-toe against nearly anyone and cause teams to miss easy or open shots simply because they turn every game into such a black-and-blue affair. Maryland is a tremendously potent offensive team, even with the disorganization this year's team has faced, and the Devils made them look inept for long stretches of the game. Every Duke player brought toughness and grit on the defensive end, and while there were some lapses, Duke got it together down the stretch to get some big-time stops.

The bad news for Duke is that the offense is so dependent on physically overpowering the opposition and generating turnovers that it's become totally stagnant in the halfcourt. The best way to describe it is five out-of-sync individuals each trying to beat a defense one-on=one. There was little flow, movement or creativity on the offensive end: just a group of very basic sets that tried to take advantage of quickness instead of passing. Duke has some players who are decent shooters, but they're not so deadly that they can simply pull up and take shots and expect them to fall. There's what I call a brick-wall mentality about this team that's both a positive and a negative. When presented with a brick wall standing in the way of their objective, the team will metaphorically bash their heads into that wall until such time the wall is knocked over. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but it can often be a painful experience. That same mentality is a huge asset on defense, but the bullheadness of the players and the game plan given to them on offense has really been exposed in this past week.

Early in the game against Maryland, Duke missed its first three shots and turned the ball over to fall behind 2-0. Maryland had problems of its own, which let Duke in with a rare three by Keturah Jackson. She took it in perfect position, as Jasmine Thomas set her up with a great pass. After a stop, Krystal Thomas got the ball deep in the post and turned around for what wound up being a three-point play. After a steal by KJ, Karima Christmas attacked the rim for a layup that made it 8-2 with 13:44 left. Then came another four minute drought for Duke, which saw them miss five shots and turn the ball over twice. Maryland managed to scratch out five points during this period, but they also missed 9 shots and had three turnovers. Still, they were getting multiple offensive rebounds and some of those stickbacks were starting to drop.

The ball went into K.Thomas, who swung it to Chelsea Hopkins in the corner. She took that shot and surprisingly swished a three. Jasmine Thomas then came down and swished another three, and Duke was suddenly up 14-7 with 8:09 left. What followed was two minutes of frustration as Duke missed 5 straight shots and the Terps started to catch up offensively, with a Diandra Tchatchouang hitting a three to knot the score at 14 with six minutes left. Jasmine hit another three, but was matched by Kim Rodgers. Christmas cleaned up a J.Thomas miss to make it 19-17, and the Devils held that lead throughout the rest of the half.

The impact player down the stretch in the first half for Duke was Allison Vernerey, who scored 6 points in the final 4:36, with 4 of them at the foul line. Her final baaket of the half was a stickback of a Joy Cheek miss, and it broke a 25-all tie. Both teams shot around 30% in the half, but the Terps outrebounded Duke and got 11 offensive rebounds. That was slightly negated by Duke forcing 10 turnovers and committing just 6. Otherwise, it was the tightest of games in every significant statistical category. Jasmine was just 2-9 from the field, while Cheek was an awful 1-8.

Duke quickly extended its lead out to 30-25 in the second half thanks to a Mitchell jumper and a Cheek free throw, and then just as quickly gave up a 9-0 run over the next three minutes. Maryland scored in the post with Lynetta Kizer, got a steal and layup, a stickback and a three off a penetrate-and-pitch by frosh point guard Dara Taylor. Duke then not only stopped the bleeding, but issued what felt like a knockout punch with a 21-6 run fueled by 13 straight points from Jasmine. Mitchell also had a stickback during the run, while Cheek finally started to get going with a drive and a 15' jumper. When Christmas sliced through the line to make it 51-40 wit 8:22 left, one could feel the wheels starting to fall off for Maryland. Christmas then picked up her fourth foul, which triggered a media timeout.

That gave coach Brenda Frese and her team a chance to draw a breath and draw up a play. Duke had been harassing Lori Bjork, the best long-range shooter in the ACC all afternoon long, never letting her get an open look. Frese set her up in the corner and freed her with a screen after a penetrate-and-pitch, and Bjork nailed the shot. Mitchell then pulled up for an awkward-looking shot and Shay Selby missed the stickback, which set Bjork up for another quick trey. That was part of a 14-2 Maryland run that gave them a lead with about 3:31 left.

At one point, Duke missed 12 straight shots and turned the ball over twice. The Devils were getting multiple cracks at the basket, but Maryland's very simple zone was confounding Duke to the point where they started to stand around and hope something was going to happen rather then get into motion and break down Maryland's defense. The Devils went completely away from Jasmine Thomas, who got out of her shooting rhythm and started to force up bad shots once Maryland was well into their run. The Terps couldn't extended their lead despite a couple of opportunities, as Duke's defense started to impose its will once again and also started to dominate the boards.

Still, Maryland was clinging to a 1-point lead with less then two minutes left. Mitchell was isolated about 18 feet away from the basket. All of her teammates were covered. With the shot clock running down, all she could do was uncork an 18' turnaround jumper that somehow went in, giving Duke a 55-54 lead. Duke then forced a miss, ran down the clock, missed a shot, got the offensive board, missed again and was eventually fouled when the game clock ran under 30 seconds. Duke wasn't in the bonus at that point, and so Duke was able to burn off another 11 seconds as Maryland kept fouling to get Duke into a one-and-one. Cheek was fouled, stepped up and coolly drained both shots, giving Duke a crucial 3-point lead with 20 seconds to go. Anjale Barrett got a good look at the basket from the left wing but missed, and Jasmine Thomas dug in for the rebound. She was fouled with 5 seconds left, hit the first shot to seal the game, and missed the second. A buzzer-beater by Barrett was rendered meaningless, as Duke escaped with a 58-57 win to remain the sole unbeaten team in ACC conference play.

By the end of the game, Duke had small edges in points off turnovers (9-6) and second chance points (9-4). They also evened the rebounding margin. Only four players scored in the second half for Duke: J.Thomas, Cheek, Mitchell and Christmas. Duke only committed 11 turnovers as they won for the first time in three years at the Comcast Center. The loss also put Maryland in a hole in the ACC race, as they dropped to 2-4. They proved that they are still a dangerous team, but don't quite know how to win close games yet. As for Duke, their mental toughness and focus to close out the game was commendable, but it was still troubling to see so many instances of poor communication on the floor, especially given the number of times Maryland got open shots from the perimeter. Duke does get a few days off after a grueling week's worth of games, but will find themselves supremely tested when Florida State visits Cameron this week.



Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Team Box
 
Duke Survives Maryland, 58-57
Player by Player

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