Duke women look to rebound vs. Terps
As impressive as Duke has been in winning all its ACC women’s basketball games by double-digit margins this season, one area of the game continues to trouble the Blue Devils.
Even while soundly beating Virginia 62-41 on Friday in Charlottesville, Va., Duke lost the rebounding battle by 10. It was the third consecutive game that the Blue Devils have been outrebounded.
Losing the rebounding battle and winning the game don’t appear to be a strong possibility tonight when the No. 5 Blue Devils welcome No. 7 Maryland to Cameron Indoor Stadium (7 p.m., ESPN2).
“I think we have great potential to play a whole lot better than we’re playing if we can get our aggression and intensity to play to the boards a little more,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “(We need to) rebound and mix it up a little more. Add that to being intense and smart with the basketball, and I think we’ll be in good shape. Obviously, rebounding will be a big key.”
The Terrapins (19-3, 10-1 ACC) can catch Duke (21-1, 11-0) in the league standings with a win. Every other ACC team has at least two league losses.
Maryland particularly is strong where Duke is showing weakness. The Terrapins are the league’s top rebounding team, averaging 45.8 per game. Maryland’s foes only get 29.5, giving Coach Brenda Frese’s team a whopping 16.3 rebounding margin.
Duke has the league’s second-best rebounding margin at 8.3.
“They are the best rebounding team in the country, so you have to give them credit for going to the boards hard,” McCallie said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to put bodies on people, a lot of contact, really a contact game.
"Obviously, we weren’t focused or did we execute in our last game. We didn’t play that aggressive part of the game. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
Duke junior forward Haley Peters, along with sophomore center Elizabeth Williams, will be charged with improving the rebounding tonight. Peters, not one to shy away from a challenge, looks forward to the opportunity.
“We’re excited to play,” Peters said. “They are always a tough team, very physical. With our rebounding last game, it’s the perfect game for us to play to see if we can get back up and try to be more consistent.”
Over the Blue Devils’ past three games — wins over Miami, North Carolina and Virginia — they have played exceptional basketball for one half while being more mediocre in the other.
At Virginia, for example, Duke trailed most of the first half before an 11-0 run gave it a 24-22 lead at intermission. The Blue Devils shot 56 percent in the second half to pull away for the easy win.
Having made the NCAA Tournament’s elite eight in each of the past three seasons, the Blue Devils strive for a higher level of play in their quest to reach the program’s first Final Four since 2006.
That’s why Peters can’t wait to face the rebounding-savvy Terrapins. She knows what her team needs to do.
“Just being the more physical team,” Peters said. “We have to be focused from the jump. We need to grow in this department for March and April. So it’s perfect. This is the moment right now.”