Duke dominates Coker as Yohn comes home
There may have been a good friend on the other side, but that didn’t mean No. 2 Duke could be hospitable with its play during a women’s basketball exhibition Sunday.
Coker College, a Division II school from Hartsville, S.C., included former Northern High School player Hailey Yohn in its starting lineup. Yohn has played at Cameron while attending camps dating back to her middle school days.
When the starting lineups were introduced, as Coker’s four other starters received handshakes from Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, Yohn and McCallie embraced in a hug.
Once the game started, though, the Blue Devils set about dismantling the Cobras, playing stifling defense and effective offense in a 102-50 win.
“Better ball pressure and just all around improvements,” McCallie said about her team’s defense. “It’s a process and I think we are taking steps and as long as we are demanding of ourselves it will be super.”
Defense and rebounding were major points of emphasis for Duke after a 122-77 exhibition win over Glenville (W.Va) State last Wednesday. McCallie called Duke’s defense “appalling” after that game and vowed work would be done.
It obviously was as Coker made just 24.6 percent of its shots and turned the ball over 24 times. Duke forced the majority of those turnovers with its 18 steals.
The Blue Devils also blocked 12 shots, with junior center Elizabeth Williams swatting away five and freshman center Kendall McCravey-Cooper blocking four.
“From Elizabeth’s standing point,” McCallie said, “they way she played above the rim and really getting after it was inspiring. I know I felt that and the team as well.”
Williams scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to notch a double-double. She dominated inside by making 14 of 15 shots. Only her 1-of-7 free throw shooting kept her below 30 points.
“I think in general I’m trying to get better in terms of keeping the mindset of dominating no matter who we play,” Williams said. “I just think today I did a better job of finishing and that’s why I was successful.”
Yohn, a junior guard, has averaged 6.8 points per game over her first two seasons at Coker. She’s Northern’s career leader in 3-pointers made and was named all-conference twice while playing for the Knights.
Her teammate at Northern was Jenna Frush, a junior walk-on guard for the Blue Devils. They’ve known each other since first grade and are close friends.
Yohn knows most of the rest of Duke’s players as well from working at Duke’s summer basketball camps
So this trip to Cameron for an exhibition was a little more special to Yohn than to her teammates.
“It was an amazing experience,” Yohh said. “Honestly, like a dream come true. I’ve grown up around here and to have all my family and friends and bring Coker here and represent them.”
Duke’s attention to detail defensively was evident early as the Blue Devils took control of the game.
Over the game’s first 11 minutes, Coker made just 2 of 19 shots while Duke recorded six steals and four blocked shots to take a 32-5 lead.
Yohn missed her first four shots and finished 2 of 11 from the field while scoring four points.
“Duke’s a great team,” Coker coach Jenny Finora said. “To me, they’re going to be contending for a national championship. They’re long. They’re athletic, they’re quick.”
Chelsea Gray had 12 assists for Duke, which recorded 28 assists on their 42 made field goals. Freshman center Oderah Chidom scored 17 points, while Haley Peters scored 13 and Tricia Liston 12.
Its exhibition games completed, Duke opens the regular season on Nov. 10 at No. 9 California before playing its home regular-season opener Nov. 15 against South Carolina-Upstate.
“We are excited,” McCallie said. “These have been two great exhibitions for us and it will be fun to apply these lessons into the next games.”