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NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
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NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
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NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
By DWHoops Staff
March 22, 2015

Analysis and Stats (JS)

In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: They limited second-half turnovers, dominated the boards, and confused a potent MSU attack built on the kind of shooting that has punished Duke so many times this year.

Why Mississippi State Lost: They had a number of defensive breakdowns, they couldn't get in the lane for easy baskets, and they committed some key turnovers when Duke went on a big second-half run.

The Game Turned When...: . The Devils went on a 26-5 run in the second half. That gave them a 15-point advantage that would prove to be enough to win the game.

X-Factor: Ka'lia Johnson. She hit enough jumpers to keep MSU honest, made some outstanding passes, attacked the basket and played great defense.

Areas For Improvement: Duke's free throw shooting was truly atrocious, which I attribute at least in part to exhaustion. MSU had trouble defending at the rim.

Ramifications: Duke beat a tough opponent and live to play another day. MSU had a great season and will get back a number of its best players. Duke's next opponent will either be old friend Maryland or undefeated Princeton. Either matchup would be fascinating for a variety of reasons.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams


Liz was in for a huge battle with Martha Alwal down low, and after going just 2-6 in the first half, she attacked with a vengeance during Duke's big run, scoring 6 points and dishing out 3 assists. She dominated the boards once again and in general played with both a sense of urgency but also a sense of ease. She knew that if she kept attacking while reading the defense intelligently, good things would happen for the team. Her pass to Stevens for a three, for example, was a killer because it negated a three that MSU had just hit.

Azurá Stevens


This was a clutch performance for Stevens, who's rapidly figuring out this postseason thing. She started out with a short jumper and then scored four more times on mismatches inside. She began the second half with a stickback, scored twice on feeds from Williams, triggered a fast break with a huge steal, drained a momentum-shifting three and sank 3 foul shots. MSU really had no answer for her size and ability to shoot or post-up, and Stevens did it all with a great deal of cool confidence.

Amber Henson


Amber did not score (and in fact took just one shot), but she moved the ball around to open shooters, blocked shots and rebounded.

Ka'lia Johnson


This was KJ's best game in quite some time. She did her usual great work at the defensive end, but it was her ability to make plays against MSU's man-to-man defense (a relief after playing against zone after zone, no doubt) that gave Duke its real edge. She hit smart, open mid-range jumpers. She attacked the defense to get layups. She hit free throws. KJ did turn the ball over, but she kept it under control in the second half under heavy pressure.

Rebecca Greenwell


Greenwell is fiery in comparison to Stevens' calmer demeanor, which is important because it feeds her own confidence in her shot. MSU glued a player to her at all times in the first half, as she got off just one shot (a trey that landed). In the second half, Greenwell got to handle the ball a bit more but also got the benefit of more screens, better ball reversal and creating offense from defense. It was still strange to see her struggle from the foul line, but hitting 3-4 after an MSU technical put the game away. Becca also grabbed several key rebounds and kept her mistakes in the second half to a minimum.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Kendall Cooper


Kendall scored on a crucial three point play in the first half and then went on with a knee injury. Fortunately, it wasn't a serious injury, and she returned later in the game. She did travel a few times, but she was active on the defensive end.

Erin Mathias


Erin went out with a leg injury early in the game but later returned to provide eleven minutes of relief off the bench. She was burned a couple of times for jumpers, but she had her hands up both times.

NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
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NCAA: Devils Knock Off Mississippi St, 64-56
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