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NCAA Preview: Duke vs. Connecticut
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#1 UConn Crushes Duke Again, 75-40
Player Stats

#1 UConn Crushes Duke Again, 75-40
By Rob Clough
March 30, 2011


THE NUTSHELL: Defending Champ Huskies Return to Final Four

Duke kept it interesting for a half, but they once again were blown out by the UConn Huskies. The Blue Devils didn't accomplish any of the pregame goals I outlined in our DWHoops game preview, and they paid for it with the worst NCAA Tournament loss in Duke history. Rebounds? UConn led, 40-27. Tempo? UConn ran the ball down Duke's throat, with a 12-4 edge in fast break points. Shot-making? Duke shot an excruciating 25% from the floor. The Devils hustled and scrapped to stay within 3-6 points for most of the first half, thanks to some timely shooting by Shay Selby and the usual hustle by Jasmine Thomas. Duke was within 3 points with under four minutes to go, and one could see UConn start to wear down a bit. Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes both picked up 2 first-half fouls that were silly. The Devils not only were unable to capitalize, they inexplicably didn't hold the ball for the final possession of the half. They missed 2 late cracks at the basket and gave Moore enough time to hit a shot at the buzzer, giving UConn the double-digit halftime lead they wanted so badly. Then the Huskies shot an absurd 72% in the second half against a Duke defense that had completely broken down.

Getting that double-digit lead seemed to lift UConn's mental load considerably and take all the fight out of the Blue Devils. Early in the game, UConn was in a position to take Duke out early with a 10-2 run to start things off. Jasmine Thomas, the one Duke player, who refused to quit, got a steal and layup and then drained a 15' jumper to cut the lead to 4. UConn pushed the lead up to 15-8 with a transition basket, but Shay Selby had back-to-back threes that made it 17-14. With about ten minutes to go in the half, Duke was in striking distance. Moore was playing tremendous defense but wasn't connecting as much as she would have liked on offense. Meanwhile, Duke was hustling after everything but not getting much to land. UConn stymied Duke's penetration, blocking penetration by Gray and Christmas and forcing Jaz to take off-balance shots. I'm not sure if it was because Duke was sending a lot of players to the offensive boards, but UConn took rebounds and converted them into easy transition baskets, over and over. For much of the first half it was the main way of scoring. But when it seemed like UConn was going to extend their lead, Duke had an answer; Jaz hit a jumper to make it 21-18 and Rima sank 2 foul shots to make it 23-20 with under four minutes to go.

At the same time, every time Duke got a stop and a chance to cut the lead to 1 or tie, they took a bad shot... and frequently quick shots. Duke falling apart in the last 3:30 of the half would be an ill portent for the second half, as the Huskies finished with a 7-0 run. Moore hit a three to push the lead to 28-20 with 1:25 left and UConn could start to smell blood. Christmas took just nine seconds off the shot clock when Duke got the ball with 33 seconds to go. Krystal Thomas got the rebound with 24 seconds left and inexplicably tried to go back up with it in a contested manner, she was tied up but Duke retained possession. Gray managed to get the rebound and was also tied up, giving the ball to the Huskies. UConn ran just enough time off the clock for Moore to give UConn a 10 point lead.

Gray hit a jumper early in the second half to cut the lead back to 10, but UConn embarked on a 20-1 rampage that turned the game into exactly the kind of laugher every Duke fan dreaded. Duke had one field goal in the first ten minutes of the half and just 3 points - a thumping reminiscent of the first half in Storrs earlier this season. Jasmine kept chucking and scrapping and scored 9 points down the stretch, but this simply prevented the loss from being one of the worst in Duke history. It was certainly Duke's worst NCAA loss. Duke did hit just 15 field goals, which broke the NCAA record set against Purdue in 1999 and Michigan State in 2009. Duke's 40 points beat out the 45 scored against Purdue in the 1999 National Championship game. By margin of defeat it was by far Duke's worst NCAA tournament loss, eclipsing the 18-point margin held by Illinois in 1997. UConn shot 59%, bettering LSU's 55% in 2000. UConn's 13 steals tied the mark set by Old Dominion in 1999.

Duke can take solace in three things: they have talent coming back, they have talent coming in, and they never have to play against Maya Moore ever again. The senior class should be proud of the season they had, winning the ACC and ACC tournament and making it as far as the Elite Eight. But the question for coach McCallie is this: what changes does she have to make in her coaching style to get her team to the Final Four?

Top Performers:

  • CONN Maya Moore: 28 points, 10 rebounds, 7 steals, 2 blocks
  • CONN Bria Hartley: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists
  • DU Jasmine Thomas: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals

Duke's Senior Class of 2011 - Krystal Thomas (34), Karima Christmas (13), and Jasmine Thomas (5) with coach Joanne P. McCallie

Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score


Connecticut Team Box Score


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NCAA Preview: Duke vs. Connecticut
#1 UConn Crushes Duke Again, 75-40
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