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Duke Knocks Off BYU, 69-54
The Nutshell
 
Duke Knocks Off BYU, 69-54
Photo Gallery
Duke Knocks Off BYU, 69-54
By Rob Clough
November 13, 2010

  NUTSHELL     RECAP     PHOTOS     PLAYERS  

Game Recap


Last year's Duke team was close to being fully formed from the very beginning of the year. Certainly, the defense got much better & smarter, as well as more physical. That aside, there weren't many surprises on offense from the players, other than Jasmine Thomas' linear evolution from contributor to consistent star. Against elite opponents, Duke's offense was too simple and predictable to be efficient, and so the Devils had to rely entirely on the one-on-one brilliance of Jas and its punishing defensive play to get wins. It worked, but only up to a point. The Devils weren't versatile and were susceptible to foul trouble. This year's edition will need time to develop the same sort of consistent defensive intensity as well as time to cohere on offense, but one can see glimmers of the future in the play of its frosh.

Chloe Wells, perhaps the least heralded of the frosh, got the start thanks to a groin injury sustained by Shay Selby in practice. She was the first frosh to earn a starting nod at Duke since Abby Waner a full five seasons ago. Wells was clearly a bundle of nerves to start the game, which didn't help as the Devils quickly fell behind 8-0. McCallie said she wasn't entirely surprised because BYU tends to start quickly and surprise teams with their press. It's one thing to be aware that something may be coming but quite another to actually do something about it. Duke turned the ball over twice and missed 2 shots during that run and gave up a couple of treys.

The Devils broke up the run with a basket by Karima Christmas with the assist to J.Thomas. After a block by Krystal Thomas, Kathleen Scheer stuck back her own miss to make it 8-4. Christmas put starting BYU center Kristin Riley on the bench with her second foul after an "and one" drive and hit 2 free throws after another aggressive drive. She had 16 points in the first half and had 10 of 12 points for Duke at one juncture. Duke crawled within 9-8 with 15:15 left but went a full four minutes without a single point; that included 6 missed shots and 4 turnovers. K.Thomas was especially flustered during this period, committing 2 turnovers, while frosh Tricia Liston struggled with a missed 3 and 2 missed foul shots. BYU turned a couple of those Duke turnovers into 5 points, pushing the lead to 14-8.

Christmas drained a three on a step-back but BYU kept Duke at arm's length, scoring off another turnover and after an offensive rebound. Duke's defense and BYU's foul attrition started to have an effect on the game and they closed out the half on a 15-2 run. Christmas led the run with a three point play and a couple of other foul shots, while frosh Richa Jackson sank her first career field goal with a contested jumper that banked in. After BYU regained the lead at 23-22, Wells drove in and hit a tough, well-defended reverse layup. She followed that up with a runner in the lane. Haley Peters got her first career points with 2 free throws after she grabbed an offensive rebound. She later grabbed a missed free throw with nine seconds left in the half, went the length of the floor and scored as the buzzer sounded. This basket gave Duke a big lift going into the half. Despite shooting 26% from the floor and 61% from the foul line, Duke dominated the boards (31-22) and the paint (12-2 differential). BYU shot just 29% but stayed close thanks to their 13-5 edge in points off turnovers. The Devils drew 2 fouls on three of BYU's starters and limited starting frontcourt players Kristen Riley & Coriann Fraughton to a combined 11 minutes.

After struggling in the first half with an 0-7 showing with 2 turnovers, Jas came out meaning business in the second half, scoring on 2 drives and a runner in the early going. Duke quickly pushed the lead to 34-24, but back-to-back K.Thomas turnovers helped BYU cut the lead in half and the ball. Christmas had s steal & runout and Jasmine followed up with a drive. Allison Vernerey posted up over 2 opponents and sank a right-handed hook shot to make it 40-29. Christmas blew a layup in transition that would have made the lead 13, which gave BYU a bit of life as they ran off 5 straight points. A three by Jasmine was matched by a Cougar three, making the score 43-37 with 12:42 left. The outcome of the game was still very much in doubt.

Then Allison Vernerey had one of the biggest plays of the game, taking a charge after Gray turned the ball over. That charge wiped out a sure score by Riley and tagged her with her 4th foul. Duke then scored 6 straight points, including a huge three by Scheer and a driving layup by Wells. After a BYU three, Duke rattled off 6 straight points, all on free-throws, to go up 55-40 with 5:12 left. Duke met another late Cougar trey with another mini-run as Vernerey scored inside and Scheer drained another three. That spurt put Duke up 61-43 with 3:24 to go. Gray took another charge with Duke up 15 with 2:12 left, a play that essentially sealed the win for Duke. Scheer hit a leaner with 1:49 left to put the game out of reach.

Duke shot an impressive 59% in the second half and held BYU to 27% (and 28% for the game). The Devils put 4 fouls on 4 BYU starters and massaged its own foul trouble with fine stints off the bench by Vernerey & Peters. For the game, the Devils owned the paint with a 28-2 edge. BYU certainly came inside quite often, but was usually roundly rejected by K.Thomas, Scheer and three other Devils. Duke did poorly from the foul line (58% in the game), but can be ascribed to jitters as much as anything. The only problem the Duke defense had in the second half was putting BYU on the foul line, but that mostly occurred in the last four minutes.

The Devils certainly need to sharpen up their decision-making, foul shooting and overall offensive chemistry. What this game showed is that they're on their way to becoming a dominant rebounding team once again and a potentially dominant defensive club. Once the team's communication becomes more refined and active, Duke has a chance to neutralize many an opponent with its combination of size, depth, quickness and skill. BYU coach Jeff Judkins said that Duke "really sped us up a little bit too fast", and it showed in the way Duke disrupted a team that shoots 36% from three. Indeed, Coach McCallie tagged them as the favorites in the Mountain West, and the Cougars will become formidable as their younger players get used to more minutes. It's going to be a long journey for Duke, but playing strong opponents will accelerate the team's development.



Duke Knocks Off BYU, 69-54
The Nutshell
 
Duke Knocks Off BYU, 69-54
Photo Gallery

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