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Previewing #4 Baylor
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NCAA: Bears Dash Devil Dreams, 51-48
Game Recap

NCAA: Bears Dash Devil Dreams, 51-48
By Rob Clough
March 29, 2010


THE NUTSHELL: Seniors End Careers In Memphis Collapse, Griner Busts Bales Block Mark

Duke's stunning collapse at the hands of Baylor was uncharacteristic of a club that had handled late-game pressure rather well through their steely will on defense. What was particularly distressing about this loss was the way Duke's offense looked after going up 46-38 with five minutes to go. Duke had just scored on a post-up from Krystal Thomas, which also happened to be the Devils' last field goal. Duke had built their lead through toughness, rebounding, timely shooting and getting to the foul line. All of that went out the window when Baylor started to press and Duke started playing too fast. Duke simply had to nurse their lead and run out the clock, given the way their defense was playing. Instead, Duke turned the ball over and took way too many quick shots. Defensively, the Devils fell apart when Krystal Thomas fouled out with 2:17 left. The Devils went to a small lineup, and even in a zone the Bears were able to find 6-8 Brittney Griner some attempts.

What was most distressing was the way senior Joy Cheek played down the stretch. Always flirting with brilliance and frustration, her turnover off an inbounds play with 2:14 left led directly to a Baylor score and gave them all the momentum. She missed a short shot with Duke holding a 1-point lead and bricked 2 threes in the game's final seconds--after hustling to force a jump ball. She finished the game with 7 points (on 2-10 shooting), 6 boards, 4 steals and 4 turnovers. Keturah Jackson was solid on defense but shot 1-8 in her final game. Bridgette Mitchell wound up with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 fouls. It was sad to see this group struggle so much as a unit, given how well they've played over the last month and in the tournament to date.

After making a number of smart decisions throughout the tournament, Coach McCallie didn't seem to have a good grip on the team during the last five minutes. Players took quick shots without consequence, Cheek didn't seem to understand that she could run the baseline when she was inbounding at the end, and there didn't seem to be any effort to go long when inbounding so as to punish Baylor's press. The mental toughness and discipline this team had displayed all year long unraveled. There wasn't a lot of creativity on offense, and Duke's inability to turn defense into offense in this game exposed just how heavily they leaned on that this year. What became clear is that Duke simply couldn't rely on one or two scorers or sets, especially against such a game-changer as Brittney Griner (who erased Alison Bales single-tourney blocks record tonight). Jasmine Thomas may have had 16 points, but it took her 18 shots to get there as she clearly felt a lot of pressure to score. Duke will have the talent next season to put up a lot of points, but will need a commitment from both players and coaching staff to make offensive efficiency as much of a focus as defensive intensity.

Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score


#4 Baylor Team Box Score


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Previewing #4 Baylor
NCAA: Bears Dash Devil Dreams, 51-48
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