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Duke Handles the Hokies, 65-40
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Duke Handles the Hokies, 65-40
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Duke Handles the Hokies, 65-40
By Rob Clough
January 15, 2015

Analysis and Stats (JS)

In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: Patience and execution at the offensive end. While the Hokies, as predicted, did not try to push tempo, the Devils did a great job of simply eliminating turnovers, particularly in the first half when they had just five miscues. Duke reacted smartly to VT using every available big to double and sometimes even triple team Elizabeth Williams and the other posts down low. First, the posts did a good job of relocating the ball to cutters and shooters. Second, the ballhandlers did a good job of taking advantage of VT dropping so many defenders down low by swinging the ball from side to side in order to locate open shooters. The Devils wound up shooting 8-16 from distance because they took what the defense gave them.

Why Virginia Tech Lost: Without a Hokie scoring threat in the post, Duke could afford to overload the perimeter on defense. VT got some open looks in the early going thanks to some sharp screens and dribble penetration, but the fact that star frosh guard Rachel Camp perhaps had stars in her eyes in the early going crippled VT's defense. Wolff played her just six minutes in her scoreless first half, and he noted that she seemed unusually tight and wasn't in the right spots on offense. That reduced VT to the Panousis show, and that simply wasn't enough.

The Game Turned When...: Duke went on a seven minute, 17-0 run in the first half. That wiped out a 16-13 deficit and turned it into a commanding 30-16 lead.

X-Factor: Erin Mathias. With Stevens in foul trouble late in the first half, Mathias did a great job of getting into a nice crouch and playing excellent perimeter defense at the top of the zone. Her size clearly bothered the VT shooters. She's playing with much greater confidence now.

Areas For Improvement: Duke gave up 13 offensive rebounds, many of them slipping out of their hands. The Devils tightened this up in the second half, but they were outrebounded overall in the first half.

Ramifications: Duke's 3-1 in the ACC, and every win keeps them in the hunt. UNC fell to 2-2 tonight, so Duke moves into a tie with several other teams for second place. Duke took care of business against an inferior opponent and beat them handily after struggling for a few games.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams


The Hokies were going to make sure that Elizabeth Williams wasn't going to beat them. They through every big on the bench at her, and for the most part they did a great job of preventing Liz from getting good one-on-one looks. Williams tried to resist frustration by making smart plays. She was aggressive early on as she scored on a drive, but she followed that up with a pass to Stevens for three. During Duke's 17-0 run, Williams hit a tough hook shot and finished a nice feed from Johnson. She finished a nifty pass from Riggs in the second half but otherwise didn't have a high-impact game. While the numbers for her aren't impressive, they reflect the way that some teams choose to play Duke by overloading her. As long as she stays aggressive, the points will come as teams are forced to switch up defenses.

Oderah Chidom


Oderah was excellent in the first half, as she found ways to get fouled and found ways to attack VT's defense. Whether slipping past the defense in transition, driving past sliding defenders to get to the hoop or simply finishing a great pass at the rim, Chidom was even 3-4 from the foul line. Mercifully, it doesn't look like she'll miss any playing time, though she will likely need surgery after the season is over. This is certanly a player who doesn't mind contact and loves to hustle; she forced a couple of jump balls by never giving up.

Azurá Stevens


Azura' was curiously passive on offense for much of the game, essentially taking herself out of the lineup by passing up shots. She still grabbed rebounds like crazy, but her only made shot of the first half was a three. In the second half, she squared up for a long jumper and had a stickback while still going after every rebound. Shd tracked down a team-high five offensive boards and passed the ball deftly. She found Mathias for a lob, Greenwell for a three, and Greenwell in transition. She did bring the ball down a few times when she got it in the post, and VT's guards made her pay by forcing jump balls and turning Stevens over. There are times when it just seems like she's drifting a bit out there, but at least she turned her attention over to rebounding in this game.

Rebecca Greenwell


Smooth and in control the whole way. After FSU denied her the ball, Greenwell hunted her shot early and often. She had a quick three and finished a cut in the opening moments. Then she sank another trey. Then she started scoring off the dribble. She followed that up with a steal and that spectacular two-on-one break that she ran with Stevens. Greenwell went on a personal 11-0 run to start the second half, knocking down a trio of treys as well as scoring on a cut. Greenwell's size was a factor in controlling VT's Panousis, as she did a fine job of following her around to make sure she didn't get a lot of open looks.

Ka'lia Johnson


KJ was active in the first half, finding Chidom and Greenwell for easy baskets. A steal and layup and later a three were huge, crowd-pleasing plays that sparked the 17-0 run. Foul trouble limited her considerably in the second half, but she still found Greenwell twice for threes.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Mercedes Riggs


This was a strong game from Mercedes, who took over for a foul-ridden Johnson in the first half and had couple of strong plays. First, she drove from the wing to the basket with the shot clock running down, drawing a defender to her. Then she kicked it back to Greenwell, who was spotting up behind the three point line and let fly for a basket. She also tracked down a tough rebound. In the second half, with Johnson continuing to battle foul trouble, Riggs came in and racked up assists as Duke started pulling away. She found Henson for a three, Williams inside for a three point play and Stevens on the perimeter for a long jumper. She later fed Henson inside for a score. Riggs also hit a three during the run. She missed several other open shots, but a floor spacer's job is to take shots until they fall or a better shot becomes available.

Kendall Cooper


While Kendall struggled to finish or even get a good look at the basket, she still had a big role in Duke's 17-0 run. She hit a free throw, found Chidom cutting to the basket as she was being double-teamed and then dished out to Johnson for a trey.Cooper also had a massive rejection that got the crowd buzzing. Duke really needs some kind of scoring from her on a consistent basis, because she has so many tools.

Amber Henson


After a nondescript first half that featured an offensive foul, Amber stepped up after Chidom got hurt in the second half. She nailed a three that triggered a 10-0 second half run that turned a big lead into an impregnable one. She also scored on a sweeping hook, blocked a shot and grabbed some tough boards. Henson missed some jumpers but otherwise did a good job of staying engaged at both ends, as she dove for loose balls several times despite her knee problems.

Erin Mathias


This was a solid game for Erin. In addition to play good defense, she banked in a jumper that proved to be demoralizing for the Hokies toward the end of the first half. In the second half, she grabbed some tough rebounds and finished a lob. The numbers may not look spectacular, but this was a mature performance at both ends for her.

Jenna Frush


Jenna tried to score on a drive as the shot clock was running down but turned the ball over. She was her usual energetic and empathetic self on the bench, replacing the traditional post-trey high five with Chidom for a hug after Greenwell drained a corner bomb.

Duke Handles the Hokies, 65-40
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Duke Handles the Hokies, 65-40
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