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Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Team Box
Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Player by Player
Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
By Rob Clough
January 29, 2010


Game Recap

Sometimes, a game turns out exactly as one guesses in a game report. I noted in my preview for the FSU game that their "losses and struggles in other games have revealed that they can be disrupted by a physical team that can force them into mistakes." I also noted that "I'm not sure that FSU has anyone who can guard Jasmine Thomas, who can always go to the pull-up jumper if everything else on offense fails". Duke's physical play knocked the best shooting team in the ACC out of sync, and Jasmine Thomas torched the Noles from everywhere on the floor. Florida State simply wasn't ready for Duke's level of toughness and never recovered their horrible play on offense during the first ten minutes of the game.

There was a lot to like about what Duke did in this game. Going +21 on the boards against a team with a lot of size and quickness in the post was astonishing. Duke's starting five alone outrebounded the entire Seminole squad. The way Duke used its quickness to shut down slashers Alysha Harvin & Chasity Clayton (a combined 5-21 from the floor with 6 turnovers) and outstanding posts Jacinta Monroe & Cierra Bravard (3-14 from the floor with a combined 6 fouls) was simply the most dominant defensive performance I've seen from Duke in quite some time. Down the stretch, when FSU was forced to fire up threes, Duke's perimeter defense throttled their opponents, rarely letting them get good looks.

Offensively, this was an improved but still occasionally frustrating showing for Duke. The good news was that Krystal Thomas & Joy Cheek were aggressive in looking for their shots. The bad news is that they combined for 5-18 shooting. Thomas had an absurd 7 turnovers--a combination of travels, bad passes, offensive fouls, and 3 second calls. Cheek never got comfortable in the post and put up a lot of bad shots. Duke had a chance to really put the game away much earlier than they did and they couldn't do it, thanks to 21 turnovers and taking contested jumpers. Jasmine Thomas truly saved the day for Duke, single-handedly blunting a late FSU run with a dazzling display of jumpers in traffic, steals & runouts, threes and reverse layups. This was an Alana Beard-level of domination at both ends of the floor against a good opponent.

Duke started the game with a 7-0 run that gave them immediate confidence and set FSU back on their heels a bit. J.Thomas hit Bridgette Mitchell with a pass in the post and she converted it with a hook shot. Michell then hit Cheek inside for a layup, and found Jasmine for a three. FSU scored off of a J.Thomas turnover, but Duke responded with a 13-0 run. Cheek poked the ball away from FSU point guard Courtney Ward (9 turnovers) and wound up hitting 2 foul shots. Allison Vernerey came into the game and drove by Bravard for a layup. Cheek came up with another steal as the Devils were exerting full court pressure and Keturah Jackson found Vernerey inside for a three point play. Things slowed down for Duke over the next few minutes as they missed 4 shots and committed 3 turnovers, but FSU failed to capitalize as they either took quick jumpers or turned the ball back over.

Finally, Jackson hit a nice baseline jumper to make it 16-2. Krystal had a great look at the basket on a Shay Selby feed but blew the layup. And FSU continued to turn the ball over. Finally, Jackson drove and sank a 10' bank shot and Cheek found Selby inside on a cut to make it 20-2 with 9:39 left in the half. Angel Gray, held in check all game, drained a three to trigger a 7-0 FSU run while Duke was missing shots. Mitchell lobbed the ball inside to Karima Christmas, who ended FSU's run with a finish. The six-foot Christmas then blocked a shot from 6-3 Monroe and grabbed the rebound. Thomas was fouled going up and hit both freebies. After another scoring drought for both teams, Jackson sank an 18' jumper rather comfortably, and J.Thomas stuck back a miss from Selby. Duke led 28-9 with 2:32 left in the half.

FSU finally cracked double digits with 1:20 left in the half, but Chelsea Hopkins came in and threw a beautiful no-look pass to Cheek for the score. FSU got a stickback to close out the scoring in the half, which saw Duke leading 30-13. Duke was dominating FSU in terms of points in the paint (18-8), points off turnovers (13-4) and second-chance points 5-2. The Devils had balanced scoring, with Cheek & Jackson leading the team with 6 points apiece. Duke was in great shape against a ranked opponent, but hadn't quite done enough to take the rest of the night off.

Duke's lead was impressive in part because Jasmine didn't have to take over in the first half. She turned the ball over right away in the second half that let Harvin get an uncontested layup, but she would soon make up for that. The Devils stretched their lead out with a 16-8 run during the first seven minutes of the half. Thomas sank a three, hit a step-back jumper from about 5' away after getting the ball from the high post and hit a free throw. Even when she missed a foul shot, Duke recovered as Cheek swooped in for a stickback. After a first half in which was 0-4 from the field, Krystal Thomas started to assert herself with a couple of free throws and a dish from KJ. Mitchell finished up the run with 2 foul shots and a layup after a steal from Vernerey. That gave Duke a 46-21 lead--a commanding margin, but not quite an impregnable one.

At that point, a visibly frustrated Semrau changed tactics and went to a zone. Duke immediately turned the ball over when this occurred, sparking a 10-1 run by the Seminoles. Duke had been pushing them around and pressuring them relentlessly, but FSU certainly had its chances to score. They missed a number of open jumpers (often taken too quickly) and point-blank shots at the basket, always aware of a nearby Duke defender. Once they got a couple of baskets to fall (including a three point play when there was a miscommunication on Duke's defense), they got into a rhythm. Even when Duke got the ball inside, Vernerey couldn't finish and K.Thomas turned the ball over.

Courtney Ward finished FSU's run with a three to cut it to 47-31 with 10:25 to go. The Seminoles forced another turnover, but Clayton couldn't hit the three that would have made it a 5-possession game. At that point, Jasmine kicked on the afterburners and made play after play for Duke. First, she stopped the bleeding with one of her patented pull-up jumpers on the run from 10'. Mitchell missed a layup after a gorgeous open-floor steal, but Jasmine forced a miss, got the board, and zipped it down the floor to Bridgette, who threw an easy pass to Krystal Thomas for the score. That made it 51-31, which gave Duke a little more room to operate.

Jasmine came up with a steal, but Cheek couldn't hit an open jumper afterwards, and FSU responded with a three. K.Thomas started posting hard and was fouled, nailing both. Krystal's ability to convert at the line (6-6 in the game) made her a viable offensive force, even when her shot wasn't falling. The Seminoles made one last push with a three and free throw from Ward to make it 53-38 with 6:22 left. Jasmine scored on a great pass from Mitchell, who was whistled for a technical for delay of game (a call the officials I think had been waiting to make all half after giving her a warning in the first half). Ward hit the technical foul shots to make it 55-40, with FSU having possession.

Jasmine responded by swiping the ball from Harvin and driving in for a layup. Ward hit another free throw to keep the margin at 16 with 5:40 to go, but when J.Thomas responded with a three on a possession where Duke ran a lot of time off the clock, FSU's spirit was broken. Duke finished the game on a 16-2 run featuring great play from Vernerey and another three from Jasmine. Vernerey finished inside twice, hit 2 free throws and went inside-out to find Jackson for a jumper. While points in the paint and points off turnovers were a bit more even in this half (18-12 and 16-10, respectively, for Duke), the Devils punished FSU on the offensive boards (10-2 on second-chance points) and in transition (10-2).

This was certainly Duke's best offensive showing in quite some time. Given their opportunities in forcing 27 turnovers and grabbing 20 offensive rebounds, they probably should have scored another 10-20 points. However, there was certainly nothing wrong with the offensive game plan, but rather its execution. Players couldn't finish beautifully designed plays or turned the ball over (like a great out-of-bounds play where Jasmine passed from the sideline and lobbed it to a cutting Krystal--Jasmine simply threw it high). Otherwise, Duke attacked the zone better than I've seen all year, they physically intimidated their opponent and used the press effectively and selectively (ie, they backed off for a few plays when FSU started to break it). As a bonus, Duke's bench outplayed what is one of the deepest benches in the league by a significant margin (17-11 scoring, 11-7 rebounding). The win gave Duke a 2-game lead over FSU as we near the halfway point of conference play, with no return game for the Seminoles. Only Virginia and UNC remain as viable threats to Duke.

Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
Team Box
Duke Thrashes FSU, 73-43
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