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2015 NCAA Preview - Durham 1st Round
 
NCAA: Devils Survive Albany, 54-52
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NCAA: Devils Survive Albany, 54-52
By Rob Clough
March 20, 2015


R Buck Ranch Nutshell: Last Minute Comeback Averts Major Upset


Becca Saves the Day
Rebecca Greenwell erased a two point Albany lead by hitting this three point shot with 17 seconds left as Duke escaped the Great Danes, 54-52, in a first round NCAA Tournament game in Durham. Greenwell finished with a game high 20 points on 6-11 shooting behind the arc.
DWHoops Photos by Orin Day
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Elizabeth Williams had a monster game with 12 rebounds, 9 points, and an amazing 9 blocked shots.
DWHoops Photo by Orin Day

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM -- The last time Duke was in Cameron Indoor Stadium, they played in a nail-biting win against UNC. The Devils seem to love living dangerously and inducing palpitations in their fan base, as they followed up that game with a remarkably close comeback win against #13 seed Albany. The Great Danes are no strangers to the NCAA tournament, this being their fourth consecutive appearance, and they had absolutely no fear of Duke. Though they slowed down the pace on offense, this didn't stop them from relentlessly pressuring Duke all over the floor for forty minutes. They forced 27 turnovers that lead to an astounding 33 points, a testament to their collective will and teamwork as a defensive unit. They pressed full court a bit, but it was their sideline traps that were especially effective against the Blue Devils. As a result of their pressure and Duke's superior size, neither team had a lot of success on the offensive end. Duke's length controlled their star forward, Shereesha Richards, who was just 5-17 from the floor for 12 points (8 of them in the first half). Meanwhile, Duke found it nearly impossible to get good position for its bigs and won because Rebecca Greenwell hit six three point shots. This was survive-and-advance basketball.

After the teams traded the lead back and forth in the opening minutes, Duke got a little bit of daylight thanks to a couple of jump shots from Amber Henson (who just happily announced that she'll be back for a fifth season) and a pair of threes from Greenwell. The second bounced on the rim three times before settling in, which was remarkable considering that she somehow bricked a layup on her first shot attempt. That put Duke up 13-6, but Albany stayed within range throughout the first half. A short jumper by Greenwell and a trey by Henson made it 18-10, but the Great Danes went on a 12-2 run to take the lead. That included five Duke turnovers and Albany's first trey of the game. Duke immediately responded with back-to-back treys by Greenwell, whose ability to curl around screens on the wing was pivotal to Duke winning. The Devils didn't score again the rest of the half, and Albany nailed another trey to stay within a single point. The Danes forced 14 of Duke's 27 turnovers in the first half and stayed close despite shooting just 31% from the field. Greenwell had 14 points for Duke, but Elizabeth Williams and Azurá Stevens combined for 1-6 shooting and 5 points.

Albany opened up the second half with a steal, which was a testament to the fact that they weren't going to back down. Stevens got involved with a jumper off a feed from Williams and then swooped in for a steal and layup. Erin Mathias came off the bench to score six straight points and push the lead up to 38-33 with about eleven minutes to go, giving the Devils what appeared to be an arm's length lead. However, the Great Danes went on a 9-2 run to regain the lead at 44-43. Things started to get a little testy, as Henson and Albany's were whistled for offsetting technical fouls after Johnson found a streaking Stevens for a layup. A steal led to a three point play for Albany's Sarah Royals, but a trey by Greenwell made it 48-47 in favor of Duke with 3:31 to go.

Albany took the lead back and then made it 51-48 thanks to a couple of baskets by Tate. Stevens missed inside and Royals hit a foul shot to make it 52-48 with 2:06. Duke was on the ropes at this point, and one more basket might have finished them. Instead, Zakiya Saunders missed a short jumper and Williams went high for the rebound. She then tore through the defense for a layup with 1:10 to go. The Danes got two cracks at the basket but couldn't score over Duke's defense and Greenwell got the board. Williams was fouled with 22 seconds to go but missed the first of two foul shots. She then intentionally missed the second shot, knowing that Duke was wiping the floor with the Danes on the boards and also knowing that they needed the ball back. The shot bounced off the rim and Albany got the board, but Williams got a hand on the ball and forced the jump ball--and Duke had the arrow. Greenwell curled around a screen and nailed another three with fourteen seconds left. Tate drove and got a good look but missed and Stevens got the board. She hit the first foul shot and missed the second. Saunders drove and dished to Erin Coughlin in the right corner as time was running out. Williams ran out at her, but she got a good look anyway--and it did not drop. Ka'lia Johnson dropped to the ground in exhaustion, and the Devils moved on.

Top Performers

  1. Elizabeth Williams, Duke: 9 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 9 blocks, 2 steals. While she was absolutely bottled up on offense (Albany had someone in front and in back of her), she was a menace on defense, stifling Richards at every turn.

  2. Rebecca Greenwell, Duke: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 6-11 3FG. Greenwell was clutch the whole game and rescued the season with her final shot.

  3. Imani Tate, Albany:17 points, 6 rebounds, 8 steals. Tate was incredible at the defensive end, tearing apart the Devils with traps and her quick hands.


Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score

PTSFGFG %3FG3FG %FTFT%AO-D-REBBLKSTLTOPF
1st2610-2245.55-862.51-250.085-12-1754143
2nd2810-2343.52-450.06-1346.258-22-30641310
TOT5420-4544.47-1258.37-1546.71313-34-471182713

Albany Team Box Score

PTSFGFG %3FG3FG %FTFT%AO-D-REBBLKSTLTOPF
1st259-2931.02-633.35-5100.078-7-150895
2nd2710-3429.42-922.25-955.676-10-1618512
TOT5219-6330.24-1526.710-1471.41414-17-311161417


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2015 NCAA Preview - Durham 1st Round
 
NCAA: Devils Survive Albany, 54-52
Top Photos

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