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Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
The Nutshell
 
Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
Player by Player
Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
By Rob Clough
January 14, 2011

  NUTSHELL     RECAP     PLAYERS  

Game Recap


There's no question that Duke's offense hasn't looked that great of late. Part of that is due to the level of opponents played (including three of four opponents being highly ranked), but a number of Duke's problems had to do with a lack of connecting plays. I attribute much of this to a lack of practice time, especially with regard to the way that the frosh have struggled. After their grueling week against Kentucky and Maryland, the Devils had a full eight days before their next game. Judging by their 87-70 win on the road against FSU, it's clear that this practice paid off. Granted, FSU is not the hardiest of defensive clubs, but Duke's offense looked remarkably fluid from the start, sustaining them while they found ways to turn up their defensive pressure. What might have been a 6-8 point deficit for Duke in past games was instead a 1-point lead; when Duke went on a run, it proved to be demoralizing for the 'noles.

Duke's primary objective here, as it is in every game, was to control the paint. That meant controlling hulking FSU center Cierra Bravard, winning the battle of the boards and getting some post points of their own. In the first half, Duke held Bravard to just 1 shot as they led by as much as 15 points. A few last minute breakdowns trimmed that lead, but the fact that Duke was able to dominate with two of its starters in significant foul trouble pointed to how well its younger players have bought into the defense. While FSU did make a couple of scoring runs, it was clear that coming back in such a fashion took a toll on their team energy. They got little from its bench and nothing from one of their starters (Christian Hunnicutt), while Duke got 24 points from its bench and a total of 72 minutes (vs 32 for FSU).

That depth gave Duke the luxury of giving Krystal Thomas 11 minutes of rest. That depth meant that Shay Selby and Chloe Wells could come in to spell Chelsea Gray when she got in foul trouble. That depth meant that Tricia Liston could prove to be the x-factor at wing when Karima Christmas got in foul trouble. As I've written elsewhere, Duke is foul-proof with the exception of Jasmine Thomas. Now that Richa Jackson is healthy, Duke has the opportunity of starting to bring her along as well.

The game started with an offensive flurry from both teams during the game's first seven minutes. After Duke missed a couple of shots, Gray had a steal and layup. A long rebound by J.Thomas led to a fast break layup for Haley Peters. FSU struck back with 3 foul shots by Courtney Ward, but Duke took the lead back thanks to a three by Peters. Ward drained a three but Thomas drove and kicked out to Peters for a long jumper. Ward drove for a score but Jasmine took a Christmas pass off a cut and scored. The Devils finally got a stop and stuck back a Christmas miss after she stole the ball. FSU hit a couple of free throws and took the lead again on an Alexa Deluzio jumper. Christmas stuck back a miss from Chloe Wells but Deluzio scored again to make it 16-15. Finally, J.Thomas sank a three on a pass from Gray to make it 18-16. Florida State would never lead the game again.

Another trey by Jaz made it 21-16 with 13:16 left as the Seminoles started to throw the ball away unprovoked. Duke's zone was giving them problems in terms of where to throw the ball, and a lack of communication led to several passes being thrown out of bounds. Ward dropped in another three but was matched by Chloe Wells, who squared and shot well beyond the three point line as the shot clock was running down. Tricia Liston entered the game and started making plays, beginning with a nifty pass through FSU's zone to Krystal Thomas for a score. Gray found Peters on an inbound cut to make it 28-19 with eleven minutes to go. FSU's frosh phenom finally scored to make it 28-21. Duke went cold and FSU continued to turn the ball over for the next few minutes, until Allison Vernerey finished a Scheer pass inside for a score. Liston followed that up with a gorgeous spin move in the lane after an outlet pass as well as a three that made it 35-21 with seven minutes left.

Howard drove and earned a three point play (FSU's first foul shots of the night), but J.Thomas came up with a steal & rebound. Liston then changed course in transition, went up strong, and was fouled as she banked in a shot. That gave Duke a 16 point lead with 3:56 to go However, Duke would not score another point the rest of the half. That included 4 misses and 2 turnovers. Meanwhile, Deluzio shaved 3 points off the lead before Ward hit a buzzer beater from way beyond the three point line to end the half. Wells unfortunately left a little too much time on the clock when she held the ball for the final shot of the half. FSU had to make superhuman plays just to compete. Ward had 14 points but was exerting a lot of energy. Duke had just 5 turnovers compared to 14 for FSU and had a dominant 21-3 edge in points of turnovers. The Devils used its bench to give the starters 39 minutes of rest, while FSU only got 17 minutes of bench time (and no points). Duke shot 47% to 40% for FSU, but they did put the 'noles on the line 10 times. Duke's pressure, combined with nice variety on offense, gave them the lead.

The two teams were initially even to start the second half, as Duke traded 2 foul shots from Peters and a fastbreak drive by J.Thomas for two baskets by Howard. Gray then split the defense on a drive and K.Thomas scored on a 2-on-1 break with J.Thomas to make it 48-34. Bravard finally managed to make it to the foul line with 16:57 left in the second half, but Jaz found Krystal inside, who finished nicely. Duke was starting to give up wide-open corner threes and Deluzio hit one to make it 50-39 and then drained two foul shots to cut the lead to single digits. J.Thomas drove and dished to Liston, who calmly sank a three. She followed that up with some aggressive work on the boards and fot a foul shot out of it. Ward scored and was fouled by Wells, but she missed the freebie. Bravard got the rebound and was fouled, hitting both to make it 54-45. Gray scored on a drive to boost the lead up to 11, but Duke gave up back-to-back threes to Deluzio and Ward. A sloppy turnover by J.Thomas led to a second-chance layup by Bravard.

That made it 56-53 with 12:28 to go. Duke wasn't hitting any of their goals at that moment. Bravard was getting rebounds and scoring key point. FSU was getting open threes. Duke was being careless with the ball and FSU was taking advantage. Jasmine drove to the right elbow and sank a jumper to put her team up by 5. FSU scored again to cut the lead to three. Interestingly, it was a couple of frosh who staved off the comeback. Gray took a relocation pass from K.Thomas and drained a three. Gray then set up Liston behind a screen for an easy long three of her own. FSU wasn't quite done after Duke went up by 11, but they were running on fumes. After Bravard brought her team to within 66-60 with 7:28 left, Duke scored the next 10 points to put the game away.

That run started with a Jasmine Thomas drive, a teardrop runner by Gray, a nice close shot by Vernerey, a short jumper by Peters and ended with 2 foul shots by Gray. Coach McCallie wasn't afraid to let her frosh take big shots and get huge minutes, and they didn't let her down. Florida State scored 10 points in the final three minutes but Duke held an impregnable lead. Jaz was her typical self, hitting a jumper on the run, draining foul shots, getting a steal & layup and finding K.Thomas on a fast break. While Duke turned the ball over 8 times (compared to 5 for FSU), but their 23-15 edge on the boards and astounding 59% field goal percentage led them to the easy win. Jasmine allowed herself a little clapping after the win, but it was the business-as-usual mindset of her young teammates that made what should have been a tight showdown and potential upset game into one where Duke was firmly in control. The question now is whether Duke can keep that going against lesser opponents.



Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
The Nutshell
 
Devils Offense Swamps Noles, 87-70
Player by Player

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