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2012 NCAA Fresno Regional Preview
NCAA: Devils Storm Past St. John's, 74-47

NCAA: Devils Storm Past St. John's, 74-47
Published March 25, 2012


By Rob Clough

After spotting an inspired St. John's club an early 15-7 lead, Duke put them into the woodchipper and ground them into tiny pieces with fearsome defense and a devastating fast break attack. Duke trailed early because they were ceding open jump shots to SJU instead of trying to contest them. The Red Storm got into a nice rhythm and blew by Duke's man-to-man defense in staking their lead, while Duke turned the ball over 3 times and gave up some key offensive rebounds. Duke got the ball to Elizabeth Williams, who immediately drew two fouls. Chelsea Gray then drove and picked up a foul on SJU star Da'Shena Stevens, who had tallied 10 of St. John's 15 points in the first seven minutes of the game. Duke outscored St. John's 23-10 the rest of the half, including a devastating 13-0 haymaker finish. Indeed, prior to that run, St. John's reached deep to stay in front of Duke, aided by Haley Peters being out of the game with two fouls. The ringleader of Duke's surge was Shay Selby, who put Duke ahead with a pass to Williams, tied the score at 23 with a drive, tied it at 25 with another pass to Williams and then gave Duke the lead for good with a steal and layup. She scored another basket in transition and grabbed an offensive rebound after a Williams miss and dished it right back to her. After playing rope-a-dope for much of the first half, Duke's 13-0 run at the end of the half was indicative of a team that saw their opponent was getting tired and went right for the head. The shot that put St. John's on the mat was a buzzer-beating three at the end of the first half by Liston, set up by a rocket of a pass from Gray to Williams, who tipped it over to Liston for the shot.

St. John's looked woozy coming out in the second half, and Duke stayed hungry. Selby scored on a drive, delivered a no-look pass to Williams and found Tricia Liston in transition. Liston was far more aggressive in the second half than the first, scoring on a drive and getting 2 foul shots as well as scoring on that fast break. That latter score put Duke up by 19. Other than a brief run where St. John's pulled within 52-36 with about fourteen minutes to go, Duke was never threatened again. Duke's starting five was once again incredibly balanced on offense, with four players in double figures and a fifth with 9 points. The bench scored a solid 9 points and gave some solid overall minutes. The three-guard starting line-up for St. John's combined for 6-31 shooting, 9 assists and 14 turnovers. Shay Selby alone outscored those three guards. The other key factor was something else I mentioned in my preview: using the matchup zone. Predictably, St. John's guards were able to get around Duke's defenders in their man-to-man defense, but the matchup was far more problematic. Just getting passes over and around Gray and Selby was proving to be problematic. So far in the NCAA tournament Duke has crushed a skilled team with great shooters that lacked quickness and crushed a quick team that emphasized defense first. But defeating Stanford in the regional final will be a whole other matter.

Top Performers:

  1. Shay Selby, DU: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals. As I noted in my preview, St. John's played off of Selby in order to concentrate on Duke's shooters, and the senior made them pay.

  2. Chelsea Gray, DU: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 8 steals. Gray used her size and length to torment St. John's guards, stealing 4 from Nadirah McKenith alone.

  3. Da'Shena Stevens, SJU: 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. She was the sole bright spot for the Red Storm, putting her team ahead early by out-quicking Duke. When she left the game with two fouls, St. John's collapsed.

Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score


St. John's Team Box Score


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2012 NCAA Fresno Regional Preview
NCAA: Devils Storm Past St. John's, 74-47
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