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Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Team Box
Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Player by Player
Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
By Rob Clough
February 8, 2010


Game Recap

Duke's victory over UNC was not so much a matter of talent or even experience, but rather focus and communication. Even the most talented team in the world will suffer breakdowns if all five players are trying to go one-on-one. The reason why UConn is so dominant is not just because they have the two best players in the country, it's that their communication at both ends of the court is nearly telepathic. They always close out on shooters, rotate over to stop penetration and find the open player on offense. For Duke, their win over UNC was a result of the team rebuilding trust, chemistry and balance after a disastrous outing in Chestnut Hill.
Allison Vernerey hits a layup

BC started last Thursday's game against Duke with a scoring run while the Devils bumbled their way on offense. Against the Heels, Duke laid down the gauntlet early with 10 quick points. Jasmine Thomas got things going after Duke won the tap with a little pull-up jumper. Keturah Jackson went after UNC star Italee Lucas's handle and got the steal, which eventually wound up as a runner by Joy Cheek. A UNC miss was turned into a speedy transition opportunity as Allison Vernerey (making her first career start) blew by hulking Walteia Rolle for a score on a pass from Jasmine. Karima Christmas (earning a start ahead of Bridgette Mitchell) found Vernerey in the low post, and then she came up with a steal that led to a KJ basket.

The Heels, who had been firing away from the perimeter, went inside for a couple of possessions and cut the lead to 10-4. Christmas drove in for a scoop shot, the Heels couldn't inbound the ball and turned it over, and then Krystal Thomas scored on a hook & blocked a shot. After getting a stop, Duke got three cracks at the basket before KJ drained an 18' jumper. This was as comfortable and confident as I've ever seen KJ on the floor. Duke got a stop but Cheek lost the ball out of bounds, giving the Heels a couple of more cracks at the basket and a chance to score. That play came right after Jasmine picked up her second foul with 13:14 left in the half, sending her to the bench for the rest of the half.

There was some immediate concern about where the points would come from for a Duke team that's relied so heavily on Jaz this year. Indeed, the Devils turned it over twice in a row, and that second turnover became a fast break score for the Heels, who cut the lead to 16-9. Christmas attacked the rim and was fouled, sinking both of them. After a monstrous block on Cetera DeGraffenreid by Allison Vernerey (shades of Allison Bales/Ivory Latta!), the Heels lost focus and let the 30 second shot clock expire. Cheek zipped a pass out to KJ, who smoothly drained a three to put Duke up 21-9.

The Heels cut the lead to 10, and both teams were stagnant for several minutes. Finally, a nifty pass from KJ to Bridgette Mitchell broke up the drought. However, Cheek committed a turnover and then immediately picked up her second foul, sending her to the bench. A great block by Krystal Thomas triggered a fast break for Christmas, making it 25-11. The Devils went zone for a couple of possessions, but the Heels got a quick lift from Rolle with a score and a block, as a three by She'La White cut the lead to 25-16. Still, the Heels had dug a big hole for themselves and needed a more sustained run.

Shay Selby nails a sideline trey
Mitchell boarded a miss by Vernerey to put Duke up by double digits, but a breakdown of the press led to an easy score for the Heels. KJ found Mitchell inside for a three point play and then Duke switched to a 2-2-1 press, with Vernerey at the back to prevent runouts. That forced a turnover and led to an open attempt from three by Shay Selby, who drained it to give Duke a 33-18 lead 5:26 left.

Lucas got free and nailed a three, but Christmas countered with a 10' jumper. The Heels then went on a 7-0 run to put within 38-27, which included a couple of misses and Selby losing the ball to Lucas. Duke fought back with Christmas (who did a fine job of playmaking in the first half) found Selby in the other corner--she nailed a three and was fouled by Chay Shegog, but missed the foul shot. A Vernerey stickback made it 40-28, but White hit a three to pull the Heels within 9. KJ turned the ball over (she had a couple of bad turnovers in the game) and the Heels scored on a Shegog stickback. Duke regained its composure as Selby drove and was fouled, hitting both. Mitchell broke up UNC's last possession to make it 42-33 at the half. Selby and Christmas led the way with 8 points apiece for Duke. KJ had 7 points, 2 boards, 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers. The dynamic starting backcourt of UNC was held to 1-10 shooting.

In the first period Duke had margins of 20-14, 14-8 and 8-4 in terms of points in the paint, points off turnovers and second chance points, respectively, over the Heels, but the sense was Duke could have done even better. Duke's 9 turnovers were a real sticking point, because a number of them were simply careless mistakes that the Heels jumped on. Still, the Devils shot a remarkable 51% in the first half--all the more remarkable because Duke's primary scoring option only played six minutes, and their second-leading scorer played just 7 minutes. UNC had been held in check, but this was still an explosive team that had rallied from a number of deficits this year.

Jasmine Thomas soars
Indeed, after Jasmine missed a transition layup, the Heels took advantage with a quick score to cut the lead to 7. Cheek stepped up with a 19' jumper. After a miss by White, Duke settled in for a possession that seemed to rob the Heels of their will. Duke got four cracks at the basket and the Heels committed four fouls before Jasmine finally went to the foul line to make it 46-35. DeGraffenreid then drove and forced Christmas into her third foul, but Cheek found Vernerey for a score. Cheek then picked up 2 offensive rebounds, with the second finding her trapped underneath the basket. She coolly dumped it off to Mitchell to make it 50-37.

The Devils had a chance to put the game away at that point, but turned the ball over on 4 out of 5 possessions. Duke went to a variation on the matchup zone that extended out on White, Lucas and DeGraffenreid that dared them to try to shoot over it. That move completely neutralized the Heels off the dribble or in the post for a long stretch of time. Finally, the defense did break down to allow Lucas a good look at the basket, ad she nailed a three to cut the lead to 52-41 with 12:49 left. Duke still had a lot going in their favor, most notably the fact that the Heels had put them in the bonus at the foul line.

Still, the Devils had to step up to make a play, and Jasmine drove and kicked it to KJ, who sank her second three of the night. Laura Broomfield scored inside with 11:31 to go, but that would be UNC's last basket for three minutes. Meanwhile, Krystal stuck back a Cheek miss and hit a short shot after a KJ steal. After yet another miss by Lucas, KJ hit J.Thomas on a cut. Duke finished the 7-0 run with a Cheek foul shot, making it 62-43 with 9:13 left.

The Heels went back inside with a stickback and a drive, but foul troubles started to mount for them. They put Duke at the line on four consecutive possessions during a five minute stretch where their offense devolved into total one-on-one play. The Heels turned the ball over six times (including a pass that went right through Cierra Robertson-Warren's legs) while the Devils kept pounding away inside. A steal and drive by KJ and a Selby jump shot pushed the lead out to 72-47 with four minutes left. Krystal & Jasmine Thomas both got late baskets to push their totals into double figures as a stunning six players had 10 or more points. The last time Duke had that many players in double figures was in the blowout win against NC Central.
Keturah Jackson

Carolina came into this game as the top scoring team in the ACC, putting up 80 ppg (and 75 ppg in ACC play). On the year, they've shot 43% from the floor, were +9 on the boards and blocked 6 shots a game. The Devils outpaced them in every category imaginable, outrebounding them by an astonishing 24 (and dominating second-chance points 22-6), shooting 42.3% from the floor (their best mark in ACC play, as Hatchell noted) and holding the Heels to 35%. Duke ripped off 15 steals and turned that into a 25-11 advantage in points off turnovers. The Devils still turned the ball over way too much against a UNC team that rarely got a chance to apply much pressure. There were too many forced passes or passs to no one in particular. Apart from that, this was as fine a team victory as Duke has had in quite some time. The win keeps Duke a game ahead of Florida State and sank the Heels (the preseason favorites in the ACC) down to 4-4 and sixth place. There's a lot of basketball left to be played (including trips to face upstart Georgia Tech for both Duke and Carolina), but the Devils did what needed to be done in this particular contest.

Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Team Box
Duke Thrashes Carolina, 79-51
Player by Player

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