|Streak of 152 Wins vs. Unranked in Cameron Snapped|
|Frustration in Cameron
|In an all too familiar 20+ turnover night Duke dropped a 65-62 decision to NC State. Not only did the Blue Devils lose their first home game to an unranked team in 153 contests and 15 years, but tjhey will also likely exit the Top 25 rankings for the first time since the third poll of the 1999-2000 season .
DWHoops Photo by Orin Day
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM -- 2015-16 has been a record-setting season to date for Duke Women's Basketball, in all the worst possible ways. Duke lost to an unranked opponent at home for the first time since 2002 (when an Iciss Tillis flub at the end of the Duke Classic championship game led to an overtime loss to South Carolina). Tonight the Blue Devils lost to the Wolfpack Women in Cameron for the first time since 1996, when Chasity Melvin led her team to a win. In this contest, NC State rode a 30-11 edge in points off turnovers to edge Duke, 65-62. This loss will no doubt drop #22 Duke (12-6, 1-3 ACC) out of the rankings for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.
This game featured a number of gambles from coach Joanne P. McCallie, some of which worked and some of which didn't. For example, the starting lineup she used was Azura' Stevens, Oderah Chidom, Rebecca Greenwell, Kyra Lambert and Mercedes Riggs. She used Riggs in order to inject some life into the lineup and improve the team's overall communication. Unfortunately, Riggs brought nothing to the table during her stint as Duke was down 11-9. That included a couple of threes from State big Jennifer Mathurin, who stepped away from the hoop and drew away Duke's bigs from protecting the rim. Early on, Lambert kept Duke in the game with jump shots and a driving three point play, but State wound up hitting a quartet of treys in the quarter to stake themselves to a 21-17 lead. Angela Salvadores hit a couple of threes to keep Duke close, and one can only wonder what would have happened had she started instead of Riggs.
The Pack took a seven point lead in the second quarter, but the Devils went on a 9-2 run to knot the score at 30. It was a total team effort, as Salvadores scored on a drive, Greenwell hit a couple of freebies, Lambert found Chidom inside and Stevens had a stickback. Duke's defense was finally matching up with State's shooters, switching quickly and rotating over to prevent open looks. Then Lambert turned the ball over and State hit a couple of free throws. Duke had a perfect chance to score at the buzzer but Greenwell fumbled the ball out of bounds. The two teams were even on the boards and most other categories, but the Pack had a 16-9 edge in points off turnovers.
The Devils took a lead thanks to a three point play by Stevens and a perfectly timed inbounds play from Lambert to Stevens. The Pack then rattled off eight straight points, including a wide-open shot from Ashley Williams. Salvadores answered with a three but was matched by Mathurin, and the Devils trailed 45-38. Duke fought back once again, as Stevens dished to Henson for a leaner, Stevens nailed a long jumper, Crystal Primm drove and hit 2 foul shots, Greenwell found Stevens with an inbounds play plus the foul, and Primm drove and barely got the ball over the rim to give Duke a 49-47 lead after three. Primm was the only Duke player who took advantage of Williams' lack of quickness and took her to the rim.
Williams opened the third quarter with a trey, but Salvadores found Greenwell on a drive and Erin Mathias uncorked a startling 15' turnaround jumper. Back to back turnovers by Duke kept State in the game, and they tied the contest at 53. Stevens posted up and scored for Duke, but Williams hit yet another three to put State up 1. Greenwell surprisingly missed a couple of free throws, but a mix-up on a hand-off with Stevens led to a turnover and Stevens' fourth foul. She went out with three minutes to go and Duke down three.
Greenwell got fouled and hit 2 freebies and the two teams traded turnovers. Primm drove with Duke down one and was called for a charge. This was McCallie's biggest blunder of the game, because she kept Stevens on the bench with 2:11 left. State then had the ball for one minute and 23 seconds, twice getting offensive rebounds with Stevens out of the game. They finished with a layup for Mathurin and 48 seconds left on the clock. With the biggest offensive possession of the game coming up and Duke down 60-57, McCallie chose to keep Amber Henson in the game on offense. Henson has struggled from distance this year and is just now starting to get her legs back, but State essentially surrounded Duke's other players and let Henson shoot a three--which missed. State's Miah Spencer hit 2 freebies with 24 seconds to go, but Lambert hit a layup to make it a one possession game. That took eight seconds to run, and Duke had the opportunity to call time out and advance the ball to the front court at that point. They did not do so. State's Dominique Wilson hit one of two free throws and Lambert hit a three with five seconds left. Wilson hit two shots, and Salvadores missed a decent look at the buzzer. Duke won the rebounding battle and out-shot NC State, but State had eight more possessions than did the Devils and had a resounding 30-11 edge in points off turnovers. And this was a team that did not use full court pressure and rarely attacked the dribble, as they only had 9 steals. The Devils shot themselves in the foot repeatedly and the clever State team took full advantage. Until Duke can stop the bleeding thanks to turnovers, they will continue to struggle against teams with winning records.
DWHoops Nosh Player of the Game: Azura' Stevens, Duke. She had 21 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. She was badly missed toward the end of the game when State had three offensive rebounds in a row to kill the clock and nurse a lead.
Five Fast Observations About Duke-NC State
Presented in memory of Jim Sabiston
- I Repeat: She Does ONE Thing. In my preview, I noted that State shooting specialist Ashley Williams had the potential to have a breakout shooting game a la Syracuse's Maggie Morrison. It wasn't quite that bad, but this stand-still shooter got open a number of times for 12 points. Frosh Kyra Lambert and Crystal Primm both missed rotating over to her and she got wide-open looks.
- Bigger Not Better. Duke used a double-post attack for most of the game and it had a lot of trouble matching up with State's perimeter game. The four bigs combined for 80 minutes but only Stevens was especially productive. The other posts combined for 46 minutes with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and a staggering 10 turnovers. When I asked Coach McCallie about possibly going smaller to match up against State's guards, she said did try that with Faith Suggs -- who played only one minute. Forcing Duke's bigs to chase after three point shooters did not help the defense at all.
- Four on Five? Mercedes Riggs started the game for Duke and played the first six minutes, which was about five and a half minutes too long. State was able to ignore her and focus on Greenwell in particular. Getting Greenwell flustered and off-balance from the very beginning of the game was a huge key in shutting her down.
- Sharing Isn't Caring. Duke's had plenty of games with way too many turnovers, but this game was perhaps the worst, because the Pack did not press once. Duke turned the ball over on simple dribble handoffs and did so more than once. Of all the mistakes Duke made, these were the most maddening, because it indicated a simple lack of focus. Greenwell and Stevens in particular had real problems with those hand-offs, and a turnover by Stevens with under four minutes left led to her picking up her fourth foul, which allowed State to take control of the game.
- Bench Boost. A big positive in this game was the play of the bench, which outscored State's thin group 19-10. Erin Mathias hit a huge shot and played solid defense, while Crystal Primm caused problems off the dribble. Angela Salvadores hit some huge shots and Amber Henson grabbed some tough rebounds and blocked shots.