No. 10 Duke women slam lid on basket, advance past Tech
It’s difficult to beat a team when your shots aren’t falling — even more difficult when almost one out of five shots is blocked.
Duke’s Elizabeth Williams blocked five shots and Haley Peters contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the No. 10 Blue Devils past 7th-seeded Georgia Tech 82-52 in Friday’s quarterfinal matchup of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Blue Devils, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, will face 6th-seeded North Carolina, a 73-70 winner of 3rd-seeded Maryland Friday, today in the semifinals (7:30 p.m., ESPNU).
This will be the third meeting this season between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels. Duke lost the two prior matchups with the Tar Heels, falling 64-60 in Chapel Hill on Sunday and 89-78 in Durham on Feb. 10.
Williams and Tricia Liston added 15 points each against Tech, while Richa Jackson chipped in 14 points. Freshman Odera Chidom came off the bench for eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks, while classmates Kendall McCravey-Cooper and Amber Henson added three and two blocks, respectively.
The Blue Devils (26-5) blocked an ACC Tournament record 13 shots on their way to advancing to the semifinals for the 19th time in 20 seasons.
“Blocked shots are intimidating, honestly, and I think everybody contributed to that,” Williams said. “(We were) just having our hands up and being active. ... I think my teammates also get excited when I block a shot, so it can be a big momentum shifter.
“Honestly, it’s just important for us to be big inside, to imtimidate and not foul. A lot of our blocks were just standing straight up. ... I think the first time we played them, they had a lot of scores in the paint and we didn’t really like that. So we made some good adjustments, not letting their big players get a lot of easy looks.”
The score was tied six times in the first half, the final time at 24-24 on a pair of free throws by Marshall with 5:07 remaining.
Duke went on an 11-2 rally to close the first half, with Liston posting five straight points to spark the run. Ka’lia Johnson’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Blue Devils a 35-26 advantage, the largest lead to that point.
Duke opened the second half with a balanced attack that produced a 15-4 spurt and left the Yellow Jackets out of sorts, as the Blue Devils built a 50-30 lead at the 15:08 mark on a drive by Jackson.
Overall, the Blue Devils limited Georgia Tech to 23.6 percent (17-of-72) shooting from the floor, including 7-of-34 in the second half.
“I don’t think it was any one thing, whether it was a defensive possession or an offensive one,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said about the Blue Devils’ dominance in the middle of the game. “There were very few times (that) I felt we were stepping outside of what we wanted to do. ...
“We moved the ball and got the ball in the right spots, and that’s important to us. We’ve got to play this game together, and I think everyone did a great job doing that.”
Georgia Tech’s Kaela Davis, who scored 28 points in Georgia Tech’s 77-76 win over Virginia on Thursday night, fouled out with 3:58 remaining after posting 16 points. Davis made all three of the Yellow Jackets’ 3-pointers, though she shot 6-of-22 from the floor overall and took 11 shots outside the arc.
Duke struggled to contain Davis in the first half, as she netted 13 points including the three 3-pointers.
“Obviously, we found out today exactly why Duke is one of the top 10 teams in the country,” Georgia Tech coach McChelle Joseph said. “It seemed like we spent a lot of energy (against Virginia), and we didn’t have much left in the second half. (I) just felt ike they were able to make some plays, and we couldn’t match their effort level on the boards.”
Duke grabbed 49 rebounds, while Georgia Tech had 36 including 22 offensive rebounds.
But with the Yellow Jackets missing so often, there wasn’t much of a chance to use the full-court pressure that bothered Virginia so much.
“When we can’t make shots, we can’t set our defense,” Joseph said. “We get out momentum from scoring, setting our defense, build our momentum from that. We just weren’t able to hit shots, and when you don’t hit shots, then it’s difficult for us to maintain our intensity level on the defensive end.”
And the Blue Devils’ strategy paid off, as well.
“I think, too, that the team just really began to understand it’s better to pass, and I think this experience is teaching us a lot of lessons ... because that ball is moving at quite a clip,” McCallie said of the Blue Devils’ adjustment away from dribbling as much. “It’s hard to keep up with it when it’s passed.”
Liston, who had 10 points in the first half, noticed the difference.
“We had (four) players in double figures, and we moved the ball really well,” Liston said. “We passed through the pressure and got a lot of open looks. ... Our transition was pretty good, and everyone took good shots.
“I think, especially against teams that are going to try to pressure us more, we learned quickly that passing the ball out of it is where we want to be rather than dribbling.”
NOTES — Duke continues to adjust to the absence of its top two point guards, Alexis Jones and Chelsea Gray, both lost to season-ending injuries earlier this season.
|No. 10 DUKE 82, GEORGIA TECH 52|
Percentages: FG .236, FT .882.
3-Point Goals: 3-20, .150 (Davis 3-11, Marshall 0-1, Ellison 0-2, Vuckovic 0-2, Fogdemark 0-2, Whiteside 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Whiteside).
Turnovers: 8 (Maye 2, Fogdemark, Holston, Whiteside, Taylor, Bivins, Marshall).
Steals: 6 (Marshall 3, Davis, Rogers, Fogdemark).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .529, FT .667.
3-Point Goals: 4-9, .444 (Johnson 2-2, Peters 1-1, Liston 1-5, Frush 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 13 (Williams 5, Chidom 3, McCravey-Cooper 3, Henson 2).
Turnovers: 15 (Jackson 2, Liston 2, Peters 2, Chidom 2, Johnson 2, Williams 2, McCravey-Cooper 2, Frush).
Steals: 6 (Jackson 2, Chidom 2, Henson, Liston).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Wesley Dean, Karen Preato, Daryl Humphrey.