|Decisive Third Quarter Gives Devils Runaway Win|
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM -- There were signs of life for this Duke team, as they unleashed a spectacular 34 point third quarter on Wake Forest en route to a 95-68 win. Four Duke players were in double figures, including a career high 18 points from Angela Salvadores. While the Devils broke open a tight game in the first few minutes of the third quarter with great shooting, it was the defensive play of the returning Amber Henson that really turned the tide. Henson started in the second half, alongside Azurá Stevens and Lyneé Belton. That "jumbo" lineup frustrated Wake on the boards but also generated a number of turnovers. Henson's play injected a much-needed jolt of energy into a Duke defense that had been lethargic at best for the last couple of weeks. While the Devils had far from a perfect second half, it was the most life I've seen from them since before the holiday break.
#18 Duke (12-4, 1-1 ACC) started Stevens, Belton, Greenwell, Salvadores and Faith Suggs in an effort to maximize offense and energy. That group did a nice job scoring but struggled on defense, as the Deacs hit five treys in the first quarter to tie the game at 25. The Deacs were working the ball inside-out via drives and moved post Elisa Penna to the perimeter, where she drained a trio of treys. Greenwell countered with four treys of her own, but Wake (9-6, 0-2 ACC) really did damage with some simple drives to the basket against Duke's man-to-man. Once again, poor communication led to a number of mistakes.
Wake actually briefly led in the second quarter, but a 7-0 run put Duke in control at 34-29. For most of the quarter, Duke relied chiefly on jump shots from any number of players: Stevens, Salvadores, Kyra Lambert, and Crystal Primm. After Belton found Greenwell for a score, the Devils led 41-33 with 2:33 left in the half. Penna hit a shot, Greenwell committed a silly foul after a miss by Salvadores that put Wake at the line for two, and Stevens turned the ball over and Wake capitalized. A gorgeous teardrop jumper by Salvadores gave Duke an unimpressive 43-39 lead at the half. Duke was lucky that Wake missed 6 of their 14 free throws, but the Devils at least controlled hustle plays and rebounding.
With Henson replacing Suggs in the lineup in the second half, the Devils blasted out to a 13-2 run. Duke played beautiful, fluid basketball as Henson and Stevens found Salvadores for threes. Oderah Chidom came off the bench after foul trouble and lethargy plagued her in the first half and was a whirling dervish under the basket, setting up from the high post, taking a hard spin dribble and then diving to the basket. After a few Wake scores, Duke went on a 9-0 run as Stevens had a stickback and a trey, while Lambert scored on a drive. When Suggs ended the quarter finishing a three point play, the bench got hyped up in a way I hadn't seen all year.
The energy couldn't last forever, as Wake opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run. However, a pretty bounce pass from Salvadores to Stevens helped break things open, while a Chidom stickback while falling down and getting fouled brought the house down and gave Duke an 84-58 lead. It was all reserves from there, but they played with a level of focus and energy I hadn't seen for a while. The Henson effect went all the way down to the last woman on the bench.
DWHoops NOSH Player of the Game: Rebecca Greenwell. She had 21 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and four steals, but 16 of those points came in a tight first half, when the team needed her the most. She was 5-10 from the three point line.
Five Fast Observations About Duke-Wake Forest
Presented in memory of Jim Sabiston
- Jumbo Jets..It wasn't just that Duke went big and frustrated Wake in the second half. It was Duke's speed and length in the post that hurt the Deacs, as their coach Jen Hoover noted that they repeatedly tried to force the ball inside with passes that just weren't there, and Duke took advantage. Duke only got faster and longer when they subbed in Chidom, and Wake couldn't keep up.
- Angela On The Loose. Salvadores simply has to start. Playing at point today, she was able to push tempo and find teammates. At the same time, she was ready, willing and able to look for her own offense when it was there, or else find Stevens and Greenwell when it wasn't. She needs to reduce some of her sillier turnovers (an attempt at a behind-the-back pass went horribly awry), but her energy, scoring ability and smarts make her a crucial player that Duke must have confidence in.
- Talk Isn't Cheap. Henson came in and was rusty on offense and even a bit out of shape. It didn't matter, because she was able to make an impact through blocking shots and getting steals. Considering how poor Duke's defense was coming into this game, the simple act of getting her teammates into the right place at the right time was crucial in banding them together so they could play off of one another. Sure enough, Greenwell and Salvadores started talking more, which started the scoring and defensive avalanche in the second half.
- You Can't Teach Motor. Chidom is a player who either plays with great intensity or else is passive and doesn't seem to know what to do with the ball--there's not much middle ground. When she plays with intensity, she's an incredibly tough cover, much as she was in the second half here.
- Turnover Turnaround. After a gruesome 32 turnovers against Syracuse, Duke was under their average of 19 tonight with just 18. Moreover, they forced 23 from the Deacs, including 11 in the decisive third quarter. The Devils had just 4 miscues in the third quarter.
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