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NCAA: Duke vs. Stanford Preview
NCAA: Stanford Takes Out Duke, 81-69

NCAA: Stanford Takes Out Duke, 81-69
Published March 27, 2012


By Rob Clough

Duke's loss to a fine Stanford team in the regional finals in Fresno had much to do with great three point shooting by the Cardinal as well as some unexpected contributions by point guard Amber Orrange, but the Devils were also in a position to make a comeback but failed to make some simple plays. The Cardinal broke out to a double digit lead just seven minutes into the game and held Duke at arm's length for the rest of the game. A few things became clear quite quickly: Stanford was going to guard Duke one-on-one and eschew double teams; Nneka Ogwumike could not be guarded one-on-one; the Cardinal were playing with so much confidence that every bounce seemed to go their way. There were two occasions where they took threes that bounced on the front of the rim and then dropped in. The decision to guard Duke straight-up essentially decided the game, because that limited the effectiveness of Haley Peters and Tricia Liston, both of whom often depend on getting passes out of double-teams to score. With Selby locked up on defense, that reduced Duke to one-on-one play by Chelsea Gray and effort plays by Elizabeth Williams. Duke was turned into a team of individuals instead of one that shared the ball, and even when Duke made a run in the second half, they did it with individual effort instead of connecting plays. That proved crucial with about ten minutes to go in the game. The Devils had pulled within 8 and got a number of cracks at the basket that didn't fall, and didn't take open shots resulting from good passes. Stanford was vulnerable, and Duke let them get away with it. The Cardinal went back to scoring with aplomb while Gray was keeping her team afloat, but then a 10-0 Stanford run put the game away.

The stats in this game were remarkably even, with a couple of exceptions that point to the fact that Duke had opportunities that they didn't exploit. Duke had 13 offensive rebounds and Stanford had 12, but the Cardinal had an 18-9 edge in second-chance points. Duke was only 1-4 from three in the first half but the Cardinal went 5-11, and this wasn't a part of their game that was expected to be a big problem. The Devils were perfect from the foul line though they only got two attempts in the first half; they were more aggressive in the second half (14-14), but by that time it was too late. If they had gotten either Ogwumike sister in foul trouble in the first half, the game might have been very different. Early in the game, the Cardinal used Nneka to guard Williams, and Liz simply didn't have enough lift to go over her with authority. At the other end, the amazing Nneka schooled Liz on more than one occasion with fakes and also hurt the Devils with her jump-shooting. There's no question that the player who hurt Duke the most was guard Amber Orrange, who burned Duke off the dribble and then hit a number of jump shots with confidence. She had been playing at a very high level in the NCAA tournament, and she turned it up yet again against Duke. When Nneka was out of the game or otherwise occupied, Orrange was the one who made the biggest plays for Stanford.

Stanford threatened to turn the game into a runaway in the second half before Duke got tough and started to get to the foul line. Duke quickly turned a 17 point deficit into a 9 point deficit, but couldn't quite get over the hump. A three point play by Gray made the score 52-44 with eleven minutes left, but a three then bounced in for Stanford. Shay Selby drove for a three point play and Duke got the ball back. Liston missed a three, but Peters grabbed the rebound and fed it to Williams. She missed a point-blank layup, but Peters got another rebound and fed it back to Williams, who missed another layup. Stanford got the ball back but Liston came up with a steal and passed it to Selby, who was wide open at the three point line. Rather than take the open shot or try to create for someone else, Selby drove for a tougher shot and missed. She grabbed her own miss and passed it to Peters, who missed a short baseline jumper. Peters grabbed her own miss but turned it over, and Stanford finally scored. Instead of the deficit being cut to just two possessions, it was now a four possession affair, and . the Devils never seriously threatened again. Duke was never able to fully account for the Ogwumike sisters, and Stanford's role players played better than Duke's role players. The Devils will be glad to have additional firepower next season. While Selby and Scheer will be lost to graduation, three players will return from injury and suspension and three freshmen will join the squad.

Top Performers:

  1. Nneka Ogwumike, SU: 29 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists. Nneka had every aspect of her game working: jump shot, drop step, head fake, etc. She was one of the very few players this season to dominate Williams in the post and did a fine job of defending her as well.

  2. Chelsea Gray, DU: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists. Chelsea did her best to keep her team close, but Stanford cut off her greatest gift: the ability to create for others. Chelsea being reduced to acting as a one-on-one scorer greatly limited her effectiveness.

  3. Amber Orrange, SU: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals. The frosh made big plays the entire game, hitting huge shots with confidence and attacking Duke intelligently, as while doing a great job at limiting Shay Selby.

Duke Blue Devils Team Box Score


Stanford Team Box Score


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NCAA: Duke vs. Stanford Preview
NCAA: Stanford Takes Out Duke, 81-69
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