|Devils No Match for Class of the ACC|
|The return of Azura Stevens was not nearly enough to prevent Duke from another thumping at the hands of Notre Dame, 83-54. Duke (20-12, 8-9 ACC) heads back to Durham to contemplate their slim NCAA chances, having racked up double digit losses for the second straight season while also failing to defeat a ranked opponent for the first time since the 1993-94 campaign.
DWHoops Photo by Orin Day
GREENSBORO -- Duke's run in the ACC Tournament came to an abrupt and embarrassing end Friday as they succumbed to No. 1 Notre Dame, 83-54 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Women's Tournament. Only down three at the end of the first quarter, Duke then fell victim to a 21-4 Irish run that lasted nearly 7 minutes. Notre Dame led by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter, and Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw pulled her starters with a little more than five minutes to play.
"It's a tough one," Duke coach Joanne McCallie said afterward. "I'm very proud of this team, but we know we could have played better. It's not the feeling that we want to have. Obviously the points in the paint were a big story there, and the biggest story was us not defending. I know they're an excellent three-point shooting team, but that really wasn't it, either. It was the points in the paint and just the way that we let them
score pretty easily."
The Irish had five players score in double figures, led by 14 apiece from Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale. Notre Dame shot 47 percent from the field, hovering around the 50 percent mark for most of the game while Duke struggled for much of the day. The Blue Devils finished 19 of 60 from the field, and made only 8 of their 22 three-point attempts.
Notre Dame put on a clinic offensively, going the entire first half without committing a turnover. Meanwhile, Duke committed 9 in the first half, aiding the Irish during their second quarter run. The lead stretched to as many as 20 in the quarter, taking most of the drama (and energy) out of the game.
"I was really pleased with our bench today, and I thought they came in ready," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We got great production, and I thought in particular Hannah Huffman and Kristina Nelson really, really came in ready, played well, rebounded, 13 rebounds between them, and I also thought Marina Mabrey came in off the bench and gave us a great lift."
Duke got yet another outstanding performance from sophomore Azura Stevens, who dropped in 19 points in just her second game back from injury. However, the only other Blue Devil in double figures scoring was Kyra Lambert, who finished with 12. Guard Angela Salvadores had another rough outing, making just 1 of her 8 field goal attempts. She was also the victim of a spectacular move by Lindsay Allen, which left Allen at the basket and Salvadores on the floor. One of the few other bright spots for Duke was the performance of Oderah Chidom, who accounted for 8 points and 11 rebounds.
While Duke struggled to score, 10 Notre Dame players etched their name on the score book. The Irish also won the rebounding battle 44-32, and scored 42 points in the compared to Notre Dame's 18. Overall, it's not a film that Coach P will probably be reviewing much, unless it's to point out a couple of things of interest: First, the Devils never responded to the Notre Dame run. Now, that's not entirely their fault-the Irish had a lot to do with that. But second, once it was apparent it wasn't their day it seemed to the untrained eye that quite a few in blue mentally checked out. That's probably the only thing worth addressing of this film.
Notre Dame will now face five seed Miami in the noon semifinal on Saturday. The Hurricanes opened the quarterfinals with an 18-point blowout of Florida State, but will still need a minor miracle to hang with the Irish. The moral of this story: you better be able to guard the Irish for 40 minutes if you want to keep your dignity. Anything else could result in disaster.
DWHoops Nosh Player of the Game: Azura Stevens. Her ACC Tournament, however brief, was phenomenal considering how many games she missed. She added 10 rebounds to go with her 19 points- her second double-double in as many days after an entire month away from basketball.
Five Fast Observations About Duke-Notre Dame at the ACC
Presented in memory of Jim Sabiston
- Zero. It's hard enough to deal with the Irish' multiple weapons without them teaching a master class in valuing the basketball. Two quarters without a turnover at this level is a phenomenal achievement. For the record, they only had 7 for the game.
- Clank, Part 2. Duke heads back to campus probably grateful they don't have to shoot at the Greensboro Coliseum's rims anymore. The Devils never broke 35 percent from the floor and were less-than-good from behind the arc.
- Paint pushers. Notre Dame reminded everyone that they have an inside presence to go with their talented guards. Duke had zero answer most times the ball entered the paint, and it helped make the lead as ridiculous as it became..
- Shooter for hire. Anyone? This will be a short March if the Blue Devils can't figure out where the offense is going to come from with Rebecca Greenwell out. That needs to happen in a hurry.
- Wait 'til next year? This Duke team has shown flashes of greatness, but will it be next year before they put it together. Granted, they've been snakebitten with untimely injuries and attrition, so we probably have not seen the real team Coach P wants on the floor. But will that happen this year?
Our DWHoops photo gallery of this game follows - for more photos, larger photos, and exclusive analysis, join DWHoops today. It's not too late to support our work this season!
DWHoops Photos by Orin Day