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Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
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Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
Player by Player
Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
By Rob Clough
February 11, 2010

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Game Recap



Allison Vernerey battles NC State's Lucy Ellison and Nikitta Gartrell
Allison Vernerey battles NC State's
Lucy Ellison and Nikitta Gartrell
Sometimes, basketball is a simple matter of matchups. NC State is a team that started three guards and two relatively short forwards. Duke is a team with a lot of skilled and mobile size. State was starting a freshman point guard. Duke is a team that loves to apply a lot of pressure. The results: 30 NC State turnovers (and 7 from Marissa Kastanek, the point guard), a +20 margin on the boards and a 42-14 edge in points in the paint for Duke. All of that added up to a 31 point victory for Duke that was never quite as comfortable as it should have been thanks to 28 Duke turnovers. That was especially true in a first half where Duke shot a sizzling 52% but turned the ball over 16 times. The Devils left the door open just enough to give the Wolfpack Women a few signs of hope in a game that the Devils should have put away much, much earlier than they did.

What Duke did right was work to get the ball to the suddenly-dominant Allison Vernerey. Thanks to a lot of defensive switching and deft footwork on her part, Vernerey got a lot of mismatches (including being frequently guarded by 5-9 Sharnise Beal) and took full advantage of them. It's always exciting to see a player understand when the opposition can't stop them and exploit them for scores until a double-team is forced. In the early going, Vernerey helped stake Duke to a 14-2 lead with a stick back, a spin move and finish with her right hand, a basket plus the foul, 2 foul shots, and an alert cut to the basket after Keturah Jackson picked Kastanek's pocket at midcourt.

Vernerey noted in postgame that she's been working on her right hand extensively, along with extending the range on her shot and knocking down free throws. These are all things that I thought I wouldn't see from her until she had a summer to really hammer down on these skills. Instead, she's managed to pick them up while being in the middle of Duke's rigorous classes, practice and games. She's also become a lot more comfortable with the physical nature of ACC play.

Once the Devils got the lead up to double digits, it never dipped below 10. That said, State was able to stay in hailing distance for quite a long time. Krystal Thomas and Joy Cheek took advantage of State's defense and hit long jumpers to counter a flurry of baskets, and the Devils led 18-8 midway through the half. Duke then extended the lead thanks to a Cheek post-up, a Vernerey stickback and a great feed from Karima Christmas to Vernerey. After a State basket, Jasmine Thomas went through State's zone and found Vernerey for a turnaround jumper. The Wolfpack finally hit a three to cut the lead to 26-13, but Jasmine hit a three to push the lead to 16. Bridgette Mitchell and Chelsea Hopkins had back-to-back runouts after steals to give Duke a 20 point lead with 3:39 left in the half.
Alexis Rogers rebound
Alexis Rogers rebound

But then the figurative wheels came off Duke's offense, and the Devils were lucky that State could only muster a single three during that stretch. The Devils missed 2 shots and turned the ball over 5 times during a period when they could have put the game away. State missed 5 of 6 shots and turned it over 3 times themselves.

Alexis Rogers grabbed a rebound with 9 seconds left after a miss and tore down the floor, but didn't trust that she had enough time to do anything. She passed it to Cheek (who was surprised to get the ball) and she promptly traveled. Still, Duke's 22-6 edge in points in the paint and 8-0 margin in second-chance points told the story of the way they dominated inside.

The Devils certainly didn't do much to put State away early in the second half either, thanks to a flurry of fouls and turnovers. With 17:35 left in the game, State had cut the lead to 33-19 -- a difficult, but not insurmountable margin. Cheek, who had been struggling with turnovers and bad shots all night, grabbed a Keturah Jackson miss and powered up for a three point play. Two possesions later, Mitchell got into the post and hit a turnaround jumper to make it 38-19. State crept back into the game with a Kastanek three cutting the lead to 16. One of Duke's problems was that the team had forgotten about Vernerey, who wasn't getting many touches. When her teammates got the ball into her hands, State collapsed on her. Vernerey alertly relocated twice out to Shay Selby, who drained two treys in a row to give Duke its biggest lead at 46-24.

Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie
Coach P Pleased
The Devils kept trying to shoot over the zone and missed 5 shots in a row as a result, while the Pack went on a 9-0 run. They were getting good shots and Duke's pressure was disorganized, sending State to the foul line 4 times. Senior Jackson responded by getting fouled on her way to the basket, and hitting both ends of a one-and-one. That seemed to relax the team a bit as it triggered an 8-0 run that saw Vernerey get a stickback and hit a 10' jumper off an inbounds pass. Jackson hit a long jumper to end the run and make it 54-33 with 7:01 left.

Duke cruised from there, finishing the game on a 16-6 run. Mitchell continued to pour it on and broke into double figures, as did Selby. Kathleen Scheer, Hopkins and Rogers all contributed a lot of energy during their late stint, especially in terms of defense and rebounding. Duke owned a 42-14 edge in the paint and enjoyed a 15-4 second-chance points advantage. Vernerey scored a career-high 20 and proved to be Duke's most essential player on offense in this game. It frequently wasn't a work of art, but the Devils simply took care of business--which is what they'll need to do against Virginia Tech on Sunday.



Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
Team Box
 
Devils Defense Stifles Wolfpack, 70-39
Player by Player

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