STICK A FORK IN 'EM
Winthrop coach Kevin Cook said he was worried about the way his team would play the first five minutes against Duke but he should have been worried about how it would play the final five minutes of the first half.
The No. 2-seeded Blue Devils (28-6) blew the game open during that stretch en route to an 87-45 win over the No. 15 seed Eagles (24-9) on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Duke coach Joanne McCallie was happy to get off to a good start in the tournament as the Blue Devils advanced to the second round for the 20th straight season.
“It was a great and intense and fun game for our team,” McCallie said. “Winthrop was a fiery team and they never gave up. We’ve just got to keep focused, stay in the moment and really work on seeing how we can build on our game.”
Tricia Liston led the way with 20 points, including 12 in the first half, while freshmen Oderah Chidom (17) and Kendall McCravey-Cooper (14) finished with career scoring highs. McCravey-Cooper was 7 of 7 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
“The early success came from knowing how much my team needed me,” McCravey-Cooper said.
The Blue Devils had five players with assists in the first half finished with 21 assists total among seven players, which pleased McCallie greatly.
“The best stat of the game was 21 assists,” McCallie said, at least partly in recognition of the fact that it came with Duke’s top two point guards — Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones — both out for the season with injuries.
Duke built a comfortable 41-17 margin at the break. The Blue Devils also controlled the boards in the first half 25-12 and finished with a 49-23 advantage on the glass. Duke had 36 points in bench scoring and outscored Winthrop 42-6 in the paint.
Winthrop shot a paltry 6 of 29 from the floor in the first half, with half its made baskets coming from behind the 3-point arc. The Eagles did most of their scoring damage from long range, hitting 9 of 23, and only had six made baskets from inside the arc.
That Duke dominated every aspect of the game, especially in the paint, was not lost on Cook.
“They were bringing them in wave after wave,” Cook said.
Duke was even harder on the Eagles in the second half, holding Winthrop for almost a seven-minute stretch without a point. The Blue Devils continued to build on their lead the rest of the way sending Winthop to its most lopsided loss of the season (42) and a season-low in scoring.
Three-time Big South Player of the Year Dequesha McClanahan led Winthrop with 22 points.
“They crushed us on the boards and they got a lot of second-chance points,” McClanahan said. “And we didn’t take care of the ball.”
McCallie had a little bit of a scare in the second half when she saw star Haley Peters hobbling up the court favoring her ankle. Peters was able to play through it, though.
“We tried to get her out as quickly as we could,” McCallie said. “But she assured us that everything was all right.”
Duke reserve Jenna Frush, who played at Northern High School, saw three minutes of action at the end of the game. She passed up a shot attempt in the closing seconds as the partisan crowd implored her to take it.
Winthrop guard Zoe Vernon, who is from Chapel Hill and played at Carolina Friends School, hit a 3 for her only points in the game.
The Blue Devils will take on DePaul on Monday night at 6:30 in the second round of the Lincoln Regional. The No. 7-seeded Blue Demons beat No. 10-seeded Oklahoma 104-100 in the highest scoring regulation game of the NCAA women’s tournament.
NOTES — Liston moved into seventh place on Duke’s career scoring list with 592 points. ... Peters tied her career-high with six assists and set a career-high with five steals. ... Center Elizabeth Williams blocked three shots to give her 101 on the season. It marked her third year in a row with at least 100.
|DUKE 87, WINTHROP 45|
Percentages: FG .273, FT .857.
3-Point Goals: 9-23, .391 (Wright 4-10, McClanahan 3-5, Decheva 1-3, Vernon 1-3, Wells 0-1, Williams 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Calvert).
Turnovers: 17 (McClanahan 6, Williams 3, Decheva 2, Buford 2, Nunn 2, Charles, Calvert).
Steals: 6 (McClanahan 2, Vernon 2, Decheva, Calvert).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .540, FT .765.
3-Point Goals: 6-15, .400 (Liston 4-6, Johnson 1-3, Henson 1-4, Jackson 0-1, Peters 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 6.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Williams 3, Peters, McCravey-Cooper, Johnson, Jackson).
Turnovers: 13 (Jackson 3, Peters 3, Johnson 2, Henson 2, McCravey-Cooper 2, Chidom).
Steals: 13 (Peters 5, Jackson 2, Williams 2, Chidom, Johnson, Henson, Liston).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Joe Cunningham, Frank Steratore, Jennifer Rezac.