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Devils Outslug Jackets, 64-50
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Devils Outslug Jackets, 64-50
Player by Player
Devils Outslug Jackets, 64-50
By Rob Clough
February 20, 2010

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Game Recap


The biggest positive from Duke's brass-knuckles affair with Georgia Tech in Atlanta was that the Devils made the Jackets react the whole evening. Tech was constantly trying to find ways to counter what Duke was doing, reacting to big scoring runs or long scoring droughts on their part. It's a tribute to their toughness that they were able to rally and take the lead on several occasions, but Duke made sure that they were never comfortable. Indeed, even when Duke's offense looked like a bumbling mess, the defense rarely let down. That's a very different outcome from what occurred in Boston, for example, and a sign of the team's toughness.

That said, the Devils had a chance to really put the Jackets in a hole in the first half and were undone by unforced turnovers. Dumb turnovers, too: stepping on endlines, traveling with no one else around, passes thrown to nowhere. Even worse, there seemed to be points where Duke didn't know how to attack the basket. The Devils would either blatantly lower their shoulders and bowl over the Jackets (resulting in four offensive fouls) or else weakly go to the hoop and put up a layup that rimmed out. When the Devils finally figured it out and started exploiting their greater size and depth, the Jackets finally had no answers. Duke's 27-12 game-closing salvo turned what had been a deficit into what seemed to be an "easy" win. That was far from the case, but it was heartening to see Duke close out a tough opponent on the road, something with which they've struggled.

Duke started out the game with an early 6-0 burst, fueled by Jasmine Thomas. She scored off the dribble and hit two foul shots, while Keturah Jackson pulled up for a 15' jumper from the elbow. After going scoreless for nearly four minutes, the Jackets scratched with a foul line jumper from tough-as-nails forward Brigitte Ardossi. Duke defended her extremely well, rarely giving her open looks and contesting her physically every time she came inside. The Devils' frontline was awful at the start of the game. Allison Vernerey turned the ball over the first time she touched it. Krystal Thomas turned it over twice within seconds of entering the game. Joy Cheek missed a shot and also turned it over.

The good news was that the guards and wing Bridgette Mitchell (playing inside a bit) were extremely active. Mitchell put up some terrible shots that looked more like desperation heaves at the basket than real attempts, but her suffocating defense and relentless rebounding resulted in a stickback and a steal in Tech's backcourt that led to an easy score by J.Thomas. Jackson had a rebound and zipped a pass into Jasmine for a fast break score. Cheek had an offense rebound and was fouled, hitting 1 shot. With under ten minutes to go in the half, Duke led 15-5.

The Devils started turning the ball over and the Jackets post players made Duke pay. Ardossi converted at the foul line and reserve LaQuanisha Adams hit a jumper and scored in the post. Ardossi set a great screen for Alex Montgomery, who drained Tech's only three of the game to put her team up 16-15. She then turned around and found Ardossi inside to give Duke a three point lead and extend Duke's scoring drought to nearly seven minutes. Finally, Karima Christmas drained a 17' jumper to pull Duke within 1. Massive Tech center Sasha Goodlett got a stickback, but Vernerey relocated a pass out to Mitchell for a huge three that tied the score at 20. Goodlett hit a foul shot to make it 21-20, and that's where the halftime score stood after neither team could score in the final 1:32. Jasmine Thomas had 10 points and Mitchell had 5, and that pretty much sums up Duke's scoring. The Devils had 12 turnovers to Tech's 11, and the Devils were also outrebounded.

Duke turned up the pressure to start the second half as both teams turned the ball over a bit. Finally, Jackson found Vernerey inside for the basket and the foul. The Jackets, who had been careful to keep Duke off the line in the first half, started fouling like crazy. Duke had trouble converting on multiple offensive rebound attempts (with Cheek picking up an offensive foul when she lowered her shoulder), but they took advantage of the Tech fouls when Jackson was fouled attacking the basket. After she hit 2 foul shots, Mitchell got another backcourt steal and found J.Thomas yet again for a layup. Suddenly, Duke was up 27-21. After two Montgomery foul shots, Christmas drove and hit a 10' jumper. Vernerey then hit a pretty left-handed jump hook from the right block after a perfect feed from Jasmine. That made it 31-23 less then four minutes into the half.

Tech came right back with a 6-0 run fueled by Deja Foster and frosh Sharena Taylor picking KJ's pocket for a steal & runout. KJ countered with a pull-up 10' jumper that's becoming her go-toshot to make it 33-29. The Jackets again went on a 6-0 run, thanks to 2 Duke turnovers and the Jackets getting to the foul line. With 12 minutes to go, Tech had reclaimed the lead at 35-33. Jasmine drove right by the defense for a layup and Karima came up with an open court steal and was fouled, hitting both to make it 37-35. Ardossi scored to tie the game and Foster stole the ball from Mitchell and went to the foul line, hitting 1. Georgia Tech was clinging to a 1-point lead with ten minutes to go in the game.

Duke seemed to really buckle down at this point, concentrating on rebounding and pounding the ball inside. Cheek came up with a huge stickback after a Mitchell miss to give Duke the lead. After Duke played outstanding defense and forced a shot clock violation, Krystal Thomas hit a 10' bankshot that seemed to give her a lot of confidence. She then rebounded a miss from Jasmine and was fouled, confidently swishing both shots (it was a one-and-one) to make it 43-38. Montgomery scored to cut the lead to 3, but Jasmine found Krystal inside for another score. Suddenly, Duke's post players were dominating.

Christmas came up with another steal and was fouled, sinking both shots. Montgomery then turned the ball over and Christmas missed a shot. She grabbed her own rebound (Duke was getting multiple cracks at the basket by this point) and Mitchell found her for a big-time long jumper. K.Thomas put the lead into double figures wit 5:20 left after Christmas drove and dished for the easy layup. Taylor responded with a jumper, but when J.Thomas drove and passed to Cheek for a rare three, that basket broke Tech's will.

From there, Tech could not defend Duke at all. Jasmine exploited that for a pull-up jumper, and a couple of drives, while Krystal and KJ also scored again. The Devils were careful not to foul and simply ran out the clock. Duke shot 54% in the second half, forced 16 more Tech turnovers (though they still had 10 of their own) and held the Jackets to 34% shooting. Duke won the battle of the boards by 2 and had a 34-22 advantage in points in the paint. While the Devils had a 22-19 edge in points off turnovers, the Jackets beat them on second-chance points, 16-11. This was a pregame emphasis and one that Duke did not excel in. Still, the Devils found a way to win against a dangerous opponent that was tough at home. The win kept them a game ahead of Florida State with three games left, with Duke still possessing the tiebreaker. Every game from now on will be a tough one, against opponents battling for a postseason berth or trying to battle for a league crown.



Devils Outslug Jackets, 64-50
Team Box
 
Devils Outslug Jackets, 64-50
Player by Player

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