Blue Devils regroup, blow past Seminoles
No. 5 Duke, a team reconfigured because of point guard Chelsea Gray’s injury, struggled to find its footing early in Friday night’s game with No. 19 Florida State.
Once the Blue Devils got going, though, they remained a dominant group.
Duke broke open a close game with 15 consecutive points in the second half en route to a 61-50 ACC women’s basketball win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Blue Devils (25-1, 15-0 ACC) won their 17th consecutive conference regular-season game and 30th in 31 tries over the last two seasons. But they did it for the first time Friday night without Gray, their All-American who dislocated her knee Sunday against Wake Forest.
Gray won’t play for Duke again this season, meaning some serious adjustments are needed in the backcourt.
Chloe Wells turned out to the answer against Florida State. The junior reserve guard scored 15 points while hitting 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range.
“Chloe came off the bench and was superb,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Wells was pressed into action when Alexis Jones, a freshman guard who has started all season but now has more responsibility, committed two fouls in the game’s first two minutes.
“I just played hard without really thinking about all the stuff that has been going on,” Wells said. “I know that Chelsea went down, and that is a big blow for us. We were pressing early in the game. I just tried to get the team to slow down and play our game.”
Duke and Florida State were both out of sorts in the first half. The teams combined for 25 turnovers while neither managed to make 25 percent of its shots.
“We are a new team,” McCallie said. “I feel like it’s a new season. ... I feel like we rushed layups that we should have made. We rushed a lot of shots. None of us can explain that.”
Duke was down 24-20 early in the second half when things changed dramatically. The Blue Devils scored 30 of the game’s next 36 points over the next 11 minutes to build a 50-30 lead.
Duke’s defense played a major factor, as the Seminoles turned the ball over nine times in those 11 minutes. The Blue Devils’ run energized the crowd of 5,814, which Florida State coach Sue Semrau said impacted her team.
“We were stupid,” Semrau said. “We got caught up in the moment, and I felt like that was the crowd. We just lost our composure on a few possessions and credit Duke.”
Wells scored eight points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, as Duke took control. Sophomore center Elizabeth Williams, who led Duke with 20 points and 13 rebounds, scored seven points during that 11-minute stretch.
“I thought the energy was up,” McCallie said. “I thought everybody was creating more off each other defensively. It didn’t matter as much what we did defensively as much as the energy being up. That is really important.”
Florida State (20-6, 10-5) entered the night first in the ACC in scoring (76.1 points per game) and second in field goal percentage (46.2). Against Duke, the Seminoles were 26 points below their scoring average while shooting 28.8 percent.
“I thought our energy was really good for 40 minutes,” McCallie said. “We executed switches on defense and were getting after it.”
Despite the unsightly first half, the Blue Devils thrived once again even without Gray. In need of three wins to complete a perfect ACC regular season, Duke heads to College Park, Md., on Sunday to face No. 8 Maryland.
Friday night’s win over Florida State, especially after the slow start, left McCallie feeling good about her new, Gray-less group.
“I think we have great team chemistry,” McCallie said. “The team at halftime was frustrated at the score and the shooting, not really focused on developing. In the second half, there was a lot of development and a lot of chemistry all focused in the same direction.”
No. 5 Duke 61, No. 19 FSU 50
Percentages: FG .288, FT .875. 3-Point Goals: 2-10, .200 (Deluzio 2-4, Coleman 0-2, Rodriguez 0-4). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 3 (Davis 2, Howard). Turnovers: 21 (Rodriguez 7, Delgado 5, Toles 3, Davis 3, Howard 2, Deluzio). Steals: 15 (Delgado 4, Toles 3, Rodriguez 2, Coleman 2, Howard 2, Deluzio, Davis).
Percentages: FG .339, FT .619. 3-Point Goals: 6-15, .400 (Wells 4-5, Liston 2-5, Jackson 0-1, Jones 0-4). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 4 (Williams 2, Jackson, Peters). Turnovers: 22 (Peters 6, Jones 5, Liston 4, Jackson 2, Williams 2, Johnson 2, Wells). Steals: 12 (Wells 6, Jones 3, Williams 3).
A—5,814. Officials—Bryan Enterline, Joe Cunningham, Billy Smith.