Duke defense shuts down Hokies
No. 4 Duke’s defense was so effective the Blue Devils had enough points by halftime to beat Virginia Tech.
That proved fortunate, because Duke turned in one of its worst offensive games of its perfect season.
Despite achieving season lows in points, field goal shooting percentage and assists, the Blue Devils beat Virginia Tech 58-26 in an ACC women’s basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke (16-0, 6-0 ACC) won so easily because, in a physical game, the Blue Devils imposed their defensive will on the Hokies (7-10, 1-5). Virginia Tech made 26.7 percent of its shots and had more than twice as many turnovers (27) as field goals (12).
“Our press work was really good,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We were really aggressive, we played different defenses and the team responded well. Defensively, there were a lot of good moments.”
Duke can take solace in that, especially with its toughest game of the season up next.
McCallie and her players know a better night on offense will be needed with the Blue Devils play at No. 3 Connecticut on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN2).
Against Virginia Tech, the Blue Devils made only 35.7 percent of their shots while logging just eight assists.
“We have got to handle physical play,” McCallie said. “That game was physical, very physical, and you can’t get knocked off balance or rush shots.”
Sophomore center Elizabeth Williams turned in Duke’s best performance, scoring 20 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
After a stress fracture in her leg hampered her from the end of last season until the early part of this season, Williams feels like she’s finding her way again.
“I am feeling really good,” Williams said. “Like Coach (McCallie) said, being able to finish with contact is a big thing for me right now. Getting to the line and being able to do that was nice.”
Junior guard Chelsea Gray hit 6 of 12 shots for 12 points. But those were Duke’s lone bright spots on offense, as no other Blue Devils players reached double figures.
“There were a lot of what I call ‘throw up’ shots,” McCallie said. “The layups that we missed and things when we were not concentrating. And you have to concentrate if it’s going to be a physical one, so I think that’s a pretty important lesson for us.
“Since we have been so (good) offensively all season, sometimes it’s good to be a little humbled there to know what you have to do on defense.”
Duke certainly did that.
The Hokies were scoreless for the final 10:02 of the first half and the first 2:42 of the second half for a 12:44 stretch without a point. During that time, Duke scored 24 consecutive points to take control of the game.
Of Virginia Tech’s 27 turnovers, 19 came as a result of Duke steals. The Blue Devils fullcourt pressure pushed the game speed to a level the Hokies were unable to handle.
“I think that’s what it is,” Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. “I think they’ve got very good players at every position. They’re smart kids, they’ve played a lot and they put a lot of ball pressure on. If you’re not working to come and catch the ball, you’re going to have trouble and that’s what happened to us.”
No. 4 Duke 58, Va. Tech 26
Percentages: FG .267, FT .100. 3-Point Goals: 1-7, .143 (Tellier 1-3, Nichols 0-1, Lloyd 0-3). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (N. Evans, Campbell, Kiss-Rusk, Young). Turnovers: 27 (Tellier 7, Young 7, L. Evans 3, Wilson 3, Hadley 2, N. Evans, Lloyd, Ugoka, Fenyn). Steals: 7 (Tellier 3, N. Evans 2, Lloyd, Young).
Percentages: FG .354, FT .588. 3-Point Goals: 2-9, .222 (Peters 1-2, Liston 1-4, Gray 0-1, Wells 0-1, Jackson 0-1). Team Rebounds: 11. Blocked Shots: 5 (Williams 3, Vernerey 2). Turnovers: 16 (Peters 4, Williams 3, Jones 2, Gray 2, Wells 2, Liston 2, Jackson). Steals: 19 (Gray 7, Jones 6, Wells 2, Liston 2, Jackson, Vernerey).
A—4,548. Officials—Dennis DeMayo, Mark Zentz, Angelica Suffren.