Duke women awaken from UConn hangover, leash Great Danes
It took a team effort for No. 2 Duke to overcome Shereesha Richards and Albany 80-51 on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Blue Devils, coming off a 83-61 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday, got off to a sluggish start before finally recovering midway through the first half. And Duke (11-1) ran away with it in the second half.
“The first half was a little slow,” Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. “It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as good as I thought we could be and I thought the second half was a lot better.”
Duke had few answers for Richards, who scored the Great Danes’ first 14-points and single-handedly outscored Duke 14-12 during the opening eight minutes of the game.
Richards scored 20 of her 24 points in the first half on 10-of-15 shooting. The rest of the Great Danes were 1-of-15 in the first half. It was the third game in a row Duke has allowed a player to score at least 24 points, though it was only a point above her season average of 23 per game.
“(Richards) could play in a lot of places,” said Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “She’s a great player. We play these games so our players can see themselves play against the best players. She was fun to watch out there.”
Albany (8-2), also coming off a loss in its last outing, took it to Duke without remorse early in the game. The Great Danes built a 17-11 advantage during the first 10 minutes of the game on a pair of made free throws by 6-9 center Megan Craig for their biggest lead.
But Duke finally woke up and outscored Albany 23-9 the rest of the half thanks to the inside play of Elizabeth Williams, who scored five straight points to start the run. Williams finished with nine points and was held under double figures in three straight games for the first time in her career, though she was 4-of-4 from the floor.
The Blue Devils didn’t waste any time in the second half by going on a 6-2 run in the first 1:45 to force an Albany timeout after Haley Peters hit her second jumper of the half to give Duke a 40-28 lead. Peters finished with 17 points to lead Duke.
A second Albany timeout less than a minute later didn’t halt Duke’s momentum as the Blue Devils scored the next nine points to build a 49-28 lead with 15:59 left at the first media timeout of the second half. Williams came back and scored out of the timeout for Duke before Richards finally ended Albany’s drought with 15:15 left.
“I thought our game plan worked well in the first half but not so well in the second half,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “I thought the first half was great. But I knew in the second half what was going to happen. I knew they were going to come out really hard and we didn’t handle that very well.”
Duke eventually built a 35-point lead with 3:15 left in the game on a layup by Richa Jackson.
Chelsea Gray scored 12 on 6-of-7 shooting and Jackson also added 12 for the Blue Devils.
“I think we just weren’t focused,” Gray said. “We had to pick it up defensively. I don’t think we were thinking about past games. We just weren’t focused and defending as well as we should have.”
Tricia Liston, Duke’s leading scoring (17.5 ppg) was held to five points, the first time she hasn’t reached double figures this season.
|No. 2 DUKE 80, ALBANY (NY) 51|
Percentages: FG .365, FT .750.
3-Point Goals: 4-15, .267 (Coughlin 2-10, Royals 1-2, Rosario 1-2, Phillip 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 0.
Turnovers: 28 (Royals 8, Rosario 8, Tate 3, Phillip 3, Coughlin, Craig).
Steals: 11 (Royals 4, Rosario 2, Tate 2, Phillip 2, Richards).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .589, FT .579.
3-Point Goals: 3-11, .273 (Wells 1-1, Jones 1-3, Liston 1-4, Henson 0-1, Frush 0-1, Gray 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Williams 2, McCravey-Cooper, Jones).
Turnovers: 22 (Jackson 4, Williams 3, Wells 2, Johnson 2, Gray 2, Chidom 2, Peters 2, Jones, Frush, Henson, Liston).
Steals: 16 (Gray 6, Wells 3, Henson 2, Chidom 2, Jones, Jackson, Williams).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Lawson Newton, Joe Cunningham, Tommy Salerno.