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#2 Duke Outlasts #10 Marist, 71-66
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#2 Duke Outlasts #10 Marist, 71-66
Player by Player

#2 Duke Outlasts #10 Marist, 71-66
By Rob Clough
March 21, 2011


Game Recap

Duke once again walked the razor's edge in a game and survived by a slim margin against a worthy opponent. The exquisitely well-coached Marist Red Foxes had a tremendous game plan and very nearly pulled off what would have been the biggest win in the history of their program. In front of a raucous and rocking crowd in Cameron Indoor Stadium, both teams eventually rose to the occasion and played demanding, exhausting possession basketball. Duke had every opportunity to fold in this game, but their struggles had little to do with effort and much to do with execution. Simply put, Duke was tight and forcing shots. When Marist survived an early punch from the Devils and took the lead early in the first half, Duke started missing foul shots & layups left and right.

Meanwhile, Marist executed their game plan perfectly against the Devils. Marist was a bit smaller than Duke (their frontline went 6-4/6-2) and considerably less quick. Running five-out motion, they were able to set crisp screens and make sharp passes to wide-open players who drained shots. On defense, they quickly double-teamed any Duke post player who touched the ball, forcing 3 turnovers from the bigs in the first half. Krystal Thomas and Allison Vernerey had zero field goal attempts and zero foul shots in the first half. That duo also had trouble following around Marist's cutters and shooters, leading to a number of open shots. Once Marist neutralized Duke's size, they were able to break Duke's press and get some open looks in that fashion. When Duke lost Karima Christmas to foul trouble with 13:10 in the half, they lost their most effective offensive rebounder. Of course, none of Duke's difficulties matched that of Marist losing its leading scorer and "straw that stirs our drink" (as Marist coach Brian Giorgis put it), Erica Allenspach, to an ankle injury with 5:44 to go in the first half. From that point on, the resolve of both teams to win led to an epic battle between two champions.

Duke took an early lead thanks to spinning drives by Christmas and Shay Selby and looked to go up 7-2 when Jasmine stole the ball. She missed the layup, grabbed her own rebound and missed again. That revealed just how tight Duke was in the early going. Marist quickly tied the game up at 5, but Jasmine drained a three from the top of the key. Allenspach drove and nailed a tough floater and Marist took the lead with 2 foul shots by Corielle Yarde, who tortured Duke with 25 points and 12 rebounds. This was during an excruciatingly long offensive drought for Duke, as they scored just 5 points during a nearly ten minute stretch. Coach P noted that Haley Peters was Duke's x-factor, and she contributed all sorts of hidden plays in this game. These were shots she made that didn't have a hugely splashy impact at the time, but wound up carrying a greater significance later on. During the scoring drought, for example, she scored in transition and drained a 17' jumper, both on passes from Chelsea Gray.

Duke was down 23-13 with 7:13 left in the half as Marist backup point guard Kristine Best hit a jumper. Coach McCallie was desperately subbing players in and out of the game in an attempt to bring some sort of spark to her team. The result in the first half was a lot of disorganization at both ends and some more bad shots. The bench accounted for of Duke's 9 first half turnovers. J.Thomas scored 6 points in a row with a drive, a steal & layup and a floater to cut the lead to 23-19. Allenspach got hurt on that play, but Marist rallied with a 9-3 run interrupted only by a trey from Jaz. That run included back-to-back threes by Marist and a block on an attempted three by Selby. Offensive rebounding brought Duke within 5 points as rebounds by Selby & Richa Jackson led to baskets. Selby actually had a chance to cut it to three with five seconds to go but missed the front end of a one-and-one. Duke held all the advantages in hustle stats, including rebounds, second-chance points, and points off turnovers. However, they shot just 32% from the floor and an excruciating 25% from the foul line.

Duke started the second half with a lot of energy and hoped to catch Marist a bit satisfied. Christmas scored on a lob play and Selby scored in transition to twice cut the lead to 3. Christmas came up with a block as Duke got a stop, but Jaz missed a layup and momentum swung back to Marist. Yarde came up with a driving three point play to extend the lead to 6, triggering an 8-0 run. That gave Marist their biggest lead at 11. J.Thomas drove and found K.Thomas for her first score of the game, but Marist center Kate Oliver hit a jumper to make it 43-32 with 15:40 left. The throng of Marist fans who made the trip down from Poughkeepsie were ecstatic, but Duke wasn't quite done yet.

Duke got 4 cracks at the basket and finally scored on a Christmas stickback. Duke's pressure started to take a toll on Marist as the Devils forced 3 turnovers in a row to cut the lead to 43-41 with 13:40 to go. Peters hit another short jumper while K.Thomas found Jaz for a three and then stuck back a Jaz miss. Yarde hit a dagger of a three after Marist used up 25 seconds of the shot clock. This time it was Duke's turn to turn the ball over and Marist extended the lead to 48-41 with 11:16 left. Every time it seemed like Duke was going to get over the hump, Marist had an answer.

Peters got fouled and hit both shots. Marist got 2 cracks at the basket and then fouled going after a rebound. Marist played 28 seconds of great defense until Jasmine found Chelsea Gray standing more or less by herself. With the shot clock winding down, everyone urged her to shoot. Squaring her body to the basket, she drained a three that reinvigorated herself and her team while deflating Marist. Giorgis noted that this was the shot that really hurt his team, though his team was able to rebuild the margin to 7 thanks to a layup by Yarde and a corner three. Gray drove in for an acrobatic layup to cut the lead to 5, and Christmas followed that up with a muscular steal & runout.

Yarde drove and scored against a Duke defense that was disorganized for a minute. After Peters lost the ball out of bounds, Marist got another basket inside to drive the lead up to 7 with 7:49 remaining. Christmas drove and found K.Thomas inside and Gray then rebounded a Red Fox miss. She drove and lobbed it inside to Krystal, who scored on a pretty reverse that was very close to being an offensive foul on a hook. Once again, Duke had pulled within 3 points, this time with 5:43 left. Oliver hit a clutch corner three to make it 60-54. K.Thomas missed a shot inside and Oliver got a great look from three with 4:55 left. If that shot had gone in, the game would have been over. Peters got the rebound but then Jasmine turned the ball over with 4:41 left. If Marist had scored then, the game would have been out of reach. Instead, Best turned the ball over under heavy backcourt pressure.

The ball went inside to Vernerey, who had sat out much of the second half in favor of Peters. She nearly bobbled the ball out of bounds but collected herself and passed the ball to Peters. Peters had a tough catch to make but came down with the ball and calmly sank her now-trademark baseline jumper with 4:16 to go. That was the key hidden play of the game. If Duke hadn't scored on that play, they likely wouldn't have been able to complete their comeback. Yarde missed a three that Peters rebounded and got the ball to Gray. Chelsea then went behind a screen and drained the biggest shot of her young career to bring Duke to within 60-59 with 2:49 to go.

She then came up with a steal and was fouled going to the basket. "The Closer" calmly sank both shots to put Duke up by 1. Christmas then picked Yarde and passed the ball to Jaz, who scored and was fouled. She missed the foul shot but Duke was still up by 3. Gray then picked Oliver's pocket and flew down the court for layup to make it 65-60 with 1:39 to go. Marist hit 1 foul shot and Christmas grabbed a J.Thomas miss. Before Duke could inbound the ball, Marist fouled Vernerey. It was an intentional foul (2 shots and the ball), but Alli missed both shots. Why the worst foul shooter on the team was in the game at this time is anyone's guess. Karima then got the ball and was fouled, hitting 1 to make it 66-61 with 54 seconds left. Marist player Elise Caron hit a 25' bomb of a three to make it 66-64. Once again, Giorgis played the percentages and fouled Krystal Thomas, another poor foul shooter. Krystal took a breath and slowly made both free throws to give Duke a 68-64 lead with 28 seconds to go. Marist ran an extremely clever inbounds play to make it 68-66 and fouled Chelsea Gray. She hit the first but missed the second, leaving the door open for Marist. The Red Foxes got a great look for Leanne Ockenden, but she missed the shot and who else but Haley Peters came up with the rebound. She sealed the deal by hitting both foul shots, sending Duke to Philly.

Coach McCallie's gamble in using all of her players did eventually pay off when Giorgis' decision to stay with his veterans wore his team out down the stretch. Duke once again dominated hustle stats, with their 19-5 advantage in points off turnovers proving to be the stat of the game. Marist, the nation's leader in fewest turnovers per game, committed 20. The Devils were +15 on the boards and had a 17-8 edge in second chance points. Five Duke players wound up in double figures, including frosh Peters (12) and Gray (13). Chelsea scored all 13 of her points in the last ten minutes of the game. The shakiest aspect of Duke's game was its 12-23 performance from the foul line, which nearly cost them the season. Still, those two shots from Krystal and the go-ahead shots from Chelsea were as big as any free throws made this season for the Blue Devils. Duke will go from playing a deliberately paced team to the total chaos of Doug Bruno's DePaul squad and live to battle another day.

DWHoops thanks Kerry Murray for her generous support of DWHoops NCAA Tournament coverage

#2 Duke Outlasts #10 Marist, 71-66
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#2 Duke Outlasts #10 Marist, 71-66
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