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Duke Rebounds to Pound Cavs, 83-65
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Duke Rebounds to Pound Cavs, 83-65
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Duke Rebounds to Pound Cavs, 83-65
By Rob Clough
February 26, 2010

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Game Recap


To say that the Duke-Virginia game was a tale of two halves is an understatement. Duke was outhustled for the first fifteen minutes of the game and was behind as a result. The smaller Hoos pounded Duke on the offensive boards and held a 21-15 overall advantage at the half. Starter Krystal Thomas had no points and 1 rebound. Virginia had a stunning 11-2 edge in second-chance points and were exploiting a hole in Duke's defense to get open looks for forward Chelsea Shine. With Shine backing up the usual excellence of star Monica Wright, Virginia led for most of that time. Usually it's defense that leads to offense for Duke, but this time around it was a couple of three pointers dropping that seemed to boost Duke's overall energy level, enough to build up a lead and barely hold on to it at the half.

While Wright was a one-woman gang for the Hoos with 27 points, Duke wound up winning because they had too many scoring options for Virginia to deal with. Jasmine Thomas had a frigid first half, shooting 2-10 from the field, but Joy Cheek, Allison Vernerey, Bridgette Mitchell and Karima Christmas all picked up the slack. That group scored between 5 and 8 points apiece in the first half, staking Duke to its lead. Once Duke found a way to shut down Shine, it was all up to Wright, and she was just 7-21 from the field with 0 three pointers. Indeed, Virginia's inability to hit threes (0-7 in the first half, and 1-11 until a couple of meaningless late baskets) allowed Duke to stay at home more in the second half and concentrate on rebounding. It's to Wright's credit that she was able to get to the foul line 15 times, and she sold many of them with subtle body control work--even when it seemed clear she was lowering her shoulder into Duke players.

Like in many ACC games this season, Duke's depth and relentless physical play wore down their opponent. When the Devils got their inside game going and started to hit threes, the Hoos didn't have many options left on defense. Wright did everything she could with 4 steals and 3 blocks, but it simply wasn't enough. Once Jasmine Thomas got her groove back, Virginia simply couldn't score fast enough against the Devils to keep up, especially when Duke clamped down on defense and on the boards.

The game started with a jumper from Cheek and later a free throw after a Shine basket, but Virginia went on a 6-0 run to take an early lead. Duke was only taking jump shots as Jasmine missed a couple of threes and KJ missed a jumper as well. Wright scored in transition off a KJ turnover, and frosh Lexie Gerson scored off a stickback. Cheek hit a runner, but Wright countered with a jumper to make it 10-5. Vernerey scored after Krystal Thomas rebounded a J.Thomas miss and got her the ball, but Shine kept Duke at arm's length with a jumper.

Mitchell came in and gave Duke some good energy, scoring on a drive and hitting 2 free throws. She brought Duke to within 12-11, but Shine hit another jumper in exactly the same spot. KJ pulled up in the lane drained a 10' jumper as Duke was starting to get into a nice offensive rhythm. The Devils finally pulled even at 15-15 on a drive by Jackson, who played well in the early going when Jasmine was struggling. Wright pulled up for a jumper of her own to make it 17-15, but Shay Selby drove and kicked it out to Christmas for a three that gave Duke the lead. Wright put the Hoos back on top with another score with 6:44 left in the half.

After a series of turnovers by both teams, Christmas found Vernerey inside for a post-up. It was clear that the frosh was eager to dominate inside. J.Thomas then hit Cheek for a huge three that put Duke up 23-19. Wright countered with a three point play off a drive, but Jasmine struck back with a three that kick-started a 7-0 run. That run included 2 foul shots from Karima and a beautiful steal & layup from Mitchell. Turnovers were starting to mount for Virginia, and that run gave Duke a 30-22 lead. That working margin enabled Duke to fend off a number of Cavalier charges, as they would never relinquish their lead.

Indeed, UVa's Paulisha Kellum hit a jumper and frosh Telia McCall got a stickback to make it 30-26. Mitchell threaded the needle and found Vernerey for a score in the post. On the next play, Jasmine deflected a pass and got a steal, dished it to Mitchell and then was on the receiving end of a gorgeous bounce pass lasered between two opponents for a layup. That made it 34-26, but Virginia's defense held and the crafty Wright found ways to get to the foul line, with a controversial block on Christmas being one that no one on the Duke sideline liked very much. Duke clinged to a 34-32 lead despite shooting worse than Virginia, giving up 8 free throw attempts and getting outrebounded.

Coach McCallie made a shrewd adjustment and started Vernerey over K.Thomas in the second half. That paid immediate dividends when she easily scored inside. The Hoos were never able to stop her left hand throughout the game. Wright missed a shot and Cheek buried another three. KJ blocked Wright in one of the biggest plays of the game. Mitchell rebounded, threw it back to KJ, and got the ball back in transition. Less than two minutes into the half, Duke led 41-32. After a UVa stickback, Mitchell found Vernerey inside once again. Wright got to the foul line and hit a pair to make it 43-36.

Virginia went to a zone in an effort to stop Duke's easy looks at the basket, but Cheek passed to J.Thomas for a three. Wright missed a three and J.Thomas sliced up Virginia's defense with a perfect pass to Vernerey. After a Kellum miss, the red-hot Jasmine drained another three to suddenly push the lead to 51-36. Jasmine had scored 6 points and assisted on 3 baskets in less than six minutes to give Duke a double-digit lead. Virginia got it down to as few as 11, but no closer.

Indeed, Virginia scored 4 straight points before Krystal Thomas started to assert herself. In what's becoming a real trend, Krystal scored a number of points in the last ten minutes of the game that helped put Duke's opponent away--much like with Georgia Tech and Maryland. This time around, Krystal was simply extending an already-sizable lead. She hit a free throw, scored in the post and hit another free throw to push the lead to 55-42. A steal & layup by Christmas extended the lead to 15 once again. Kellum hit a three to keep the Hoos within shouting distance with under eleven minutes left.

Jasmine took over during the next three minutes, hitting 2 free throws, draining a 15' jumper and finding Vernerey and Cheek inside for scores. A stickback from Christmas (leaping high in the air) and another basket from Vernerey extended the lead to a stunning 70-50. A play earlier, Wright looked like she was a bit shaken up. On the next play, she got fouled and got a nasty cramp in her calf. She sat out for a few minutes and her team hung in there with 4 straight points. Wright came back in and drained 2 at the line to make it 70-56 with five minutes left. Stranger things have happened.

Krystal & Jasmine were on a mission to make sure that strange things didn't happen. Krystal hit a free throw and got a stickback, while Jasmine drove in for a three point play and hit 3 other foul shots. Krystal topped off her scoring with a pretty finish in transition off a Christmas feed. After a couple of meaningless threes by Virginia, Alexis Rogers got a final stickback off a miss from Kathleen Scheer. Duke dominated the second half in every category imaginable: points in the paint (28-6), points off turnovers (12-9) and second-chance points (15-9). They crushed Virginia on the boards (26-14), held them to 26% shooting and shredded them defensively, shooting 53% in the half. The Devils never could keep Wright off the foul line, as she finished the game 13-15. Vernerey was remarkable with 17 points, K.Thomas had 9 points and 9 rebounds, J.Thomas had 16 in the half and 21 for the game. Cheek played another strong game with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Most impressively, the Devils only turned the ball over 14 times while forcing 19 from Virginia.

The win gave Duke the top seed in the ACC tournament and a share of the regular season championship, the first since 2007. That's a big milestone for this group, which has had mixed success since that season. Florida State still lurks with two losses, but one more Duke win would give them the outright regular season title. The Devils have 8 outright first-place finishes and one shared first-place finish in their history. As always, it's gratifying to see Duke extend its recent mastery over Virginia, a program that tormented Duke in the 80s up through the late 90s. Duke will close the regular season with their second matchup against UNC on Sunday in Chapel Hill, during which newly renovated Carmichael will be rededicated.



Duke Rebounds to Pound Cavs, 83-65
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Duke Rebounds to Pound Cavs, 83-65
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