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Duke Women Beat Tech

by Rob Clough

Duke 86, Georgia Tech 83. January 11, 2001. 

Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

Box score |  Game summary  | Chronicle | Chronicle


Duke beat a motivated Georgia Tech team after squandering a number of
opportunities to put them away early. But the key is that they did beat
them, and made some pressure-packed baskets and foul shots down the stretch
to do it. And while their defense and commitment to rebounding was tenuous
at best throughout the game, a terrific final stand in the last seven seconds
prevented the Jackets from getting off a final shot.

Duke took an early 9-4 lead thanks to Beard and Schweitzer hitting threes
early on, but the lightning quick Tech star Niesha Butler helped keep things
close by getting to the line. An offensive rebound and three by Milli
Martinez tied things up at 9, but Beard scored 8 of Duke's next 9 points to
forge an 18-11 lead. An offensive rebound gathered by diving to the floor
by Rometra Craig led to a Rochelle Parent layup and a Tech timeout. Tech
responded with an 8-2 run aided by 2 Duke turnovers and balanced scoring.
Tech got into a nice offensive rhythm and started canning their jumpers,
with a couple of them coming just as the shot clock was winding down. After
Michele Matyasovsky found LaNedra Brown on a cut, Tech responded with a Jamie
Kruppa three point play to tie the game at 26.

Beard and Schweitzer responded by hitting tough jumper after tough jumper,
just barely managing to keep Duke ahead as Kruppa and diminutive Tech guard
Alex Stewart kept answering back. A tough turnaround jumper by Matyasovsky
gave Duke a 36-33 lead. The teams traded missed shots for over a minute
until Craig was fouled and hit 2 free throws. The teams traded free throws
until Schweitzer found Craig for a huge three with 25 seconds to go in the
half. Tech missed a shot with eight seconds to go, and Schweitzer was fouled.
She actually had passed the ball to Beard who nailed a three at the buzzer,
but was hacked before she dished off. She hit 1 of 2 shots and Duke had a
slim 6 point lead at the half.

The first five minutes saw Tech cut the lead to 4 a couple of times, but
Beard responded with a three point play and set up Schweitzer for a couple
of shots. The margin stood at 7 for a bit as both teams started to get edgy
and turn the ball over, to the tune of 8 in just two minutes. Finally,
Duke started to take advantage and forged a 12 point lead on a Schweitzer
three and a Beard fast break bucket. A free throw and offensive rebound
cut it to 9, but Schweitzer kept the Jackets at arm's length with a short
jumper and three point play, even as a Duke turnover led to an easy Kruppa
layup. Still, the margin remained at 12 with about ten minutes left, until
Tech went on a 10-2 run built on Tech offensive rebounding and missed layups
and free throws by Duke.

Beard stopped Duke's drought by hitting a couple of free throws, but a
Craig turnover and two missed layups by Beard got the team down, so that
Butler zipped up the court to hit an open three that brought Tech to within
76-75. Duke had a real fight on its hands with three minutes left.

Matyasovsky got fouled and hit two big free throws on the next possession,
but Tech came right back and scored on an offensive rebound. Parent found
Matyasovsky on a cut with just seconds remaining on the shot clock to give
Duke a three point lead at 80-77, and then drove and hit a tough shot with
two seconds left on the shot clock. Yet another offensive rebound kept
Tech alive at 82-79 with just over a minute left. Parent fed Beard for a
potential three point play, but Alana missed the free throw, keeping the
margin at 1 with a minute left. Parent fouled out on the next possession,
and the unflappable Kruppa hit both free throws. Schweitzer missed a very
tough shot on the next possesion, and Martinez hit a layup with 17 seconds
left to bring Tech to within 1. Inexplicably, Tech let eight seconds run
off the clock before fouling Beard, who hit both with eight seconds left.
Tech inbounded but Alex Stewart was hounded by Duke, and by the time she
found Butler, Niesha had so little time and was being so harrassed beyond
the three point line, that time expired before she could get a shot off.
Duke exhaled after the win, knowing that they had almost blown a game that
they had been in firm control of. The game actually gave Tech a lot of
confidence, knowing that they could compete with a top five team on the road,
and already started making noise about a rematch. Coach G was not "happy,
in any way, shape or form" with the defense and Duke's post play in particular.
Kruppa, a 6-1 center who is clever but not especially quick or strong, made
mincemeat out of whoever Duke was throwing at her by using a variety of
dropsteps and up-and-unders. Duke was constantly outhustled for rebounds
down the stretch, and this helped Tech creep back in the game. And by blowing
a number of easy shots, Duke allowed Tech to come back in a game that the
Devils were on the verge of blowing wide open. This game was a learning
experience that didn't come at the price of winning, but Duke's defense
didn't earn them this win.

** Positives:

1. Clutch shooting. Beard's two free throws with seconds left were the
clutchest of all, but Matyasovsky hit some clutch free throws and a huge
shot on a Parent assist.

2. Ball movement. This team is delightfully unselfish, and while there's
no true point guard, there are plenty of players who can pass the ball and
create. It's especially good to see the post players drive and distribute,
as well as leading scorers Schweitzer and Beard.

3. Bench. Matyasovsky and Craig did a lot to help the team, and Brown had
some crucial moments as well. Michele can play four different positions
and play them well, plus she can even handle the ball a bit. She's making
the biggest impact at forward and center, even if she's overpowered by some
of her opponents.

** Negatives:

1. Post play. Not very good. In fact, quite bad. Tillis was outmaneuvered
by Kruppa and outmuscled by Boatner and Mallory. White had a bigger
physical presence but made several crucial errors. This hurt the team's
overall balance as they were forced to rely on jumpers and penetration.

2. Defensive pressure. Duke didn't press or trap very much, only occasionally
using a halfcourt trap that seemed halfhearted at best.

3. Perimeter defense. This was Duke's biggest problem on the night. They
left deadly shooters like Martinez and Butler open several times and paid
the price.


** Tillis: This was unfortunately one of Iciss' flakier games. She actually
had a decent presence on the boards, but she was extremely careless with
the ball and took some rather questionable shots. More disturbing was the
way that Kruppa utterly abused her in the post. Iciss did have an impressive
one-handed grab of a Schweitzer pass that she slung into the basket, but
she was mostly throwing junk up there. She was also picking up fouls like
there was no tomorrow, which hurt her game rhythm. The worst one came after
she had just turned the ball over. Coach G regarded this game as an abberation
for Iciss since she had been playing so well of late, and I tend to agree.
One must remember that she is still young and won't always be as consistent
as one would like, despite her cool demeanor and incredible talent. But she
needs to learn how to get tougher against the ACC's crafty centers.

** Parent: After an ordinary first half, Parent absolutely took over the
game down the stretch, the way a senior should. She had a drive early in
the second half in response to Tech leaving her completely alone on the
perimeter. Then she came up with back-to-back steals, one of them a dive-
to-the-floor tie-up. But it was her late-game performance that was so
memorable. With Duke up a point, she drove and dished to Matyasovsky for
a basket. After a Tech miss, Ro once again drove and tossed up a floater
that went in, putting Duke up 82-77. After a Tech basket, she found a
driving Beard going to the basket, and fed her for a potential three point
play. Ro fouled out right after that, and it was clear that she was
infuriated that she wouldn't be allowed to finish the game, but her teammates
and the crowd gave this warrior a warm welcome when she got to the bench.
The way Ro has matured into a fantastic defender and passionate leader shows
how players can develop at Duke if they take their roles seriously.

** Beard: To say that Alana's performance was jaw-dropping is an understatement.
How does 7-7 from the floor in the first half grab you? And these weren't
layups from steals or drives--5 were jumpers, 1 was an up-and-under, and only
1 came on a break. And many came on pull-up jumpers after drives--often
from the same spot. She also found time to find Schweitzer for a couple of
baskets in the half and keep Butler in check. Butler really had to work
hard against Beard and Craig, because she didn't have her usual advantage in
quickness that she did with other players. The second half featured a bit
more of the Alana we're used to: driving to the basket and getting fouled.
She kept the senior happy by finding Georgia twice more, and still had
plenty of time left over for herself. She hit a tough but short jumper after
a rebound, scored in transition, got 2 three point plays and hit some
big free throws. None were bigger than the two down the stretch, the shots
that made Tech try to set up a three that never came together. The only
negatives came when she missed two consecutive easy shots, which helped
Tech get back into the game.

** Mosch: Very quiet game overall for Sheana, who sat in favor of Craig's
greater quickness on defense for much of the second half. Sheana pulled
up for a 15' jumper early in the game and found Beard for a three, but also
had a quick turnover and several bad passes. Other than picking up a few
rebounds in the first half, she didn't really do too much. She's sometimes
too passive out there and wasn't playing very effective defense, but she's
still a very valuable player. One other note: Sheana had a nice block.

** Schweitzer: An awesome, stunning game. She was consistently scoring,
rebounding and playmaking throughout the entire game and played for all but
two minutes. She hit an early three that forced a Tech timeout and set up
Tillis for a spectacular layup. Georgia scored on cuts, baseline jumpers
and free throws, including 1-2 right before the half ended. More than
that, she had 5 first half rebounds as she outfought the smaller Tech guards
for the ball. But she really turned things up in the second half,
starting out with a three and scoring on a cut from a Beard three. A steal
allowed her to feed Beard on the break, while a Parent pass found her wide
open for a three. Georgia helped Duke to a 12 point lead with a short jumper
and a three point play, scoring 5 in a row for Duke. While she didn't score
down the stretch for Duke and missed a tough leaner with a few seconds left
in the game, she forced Tech to concentrate on her and allow Beard and others
to take over. And on the last possession, she played fierce defense on
the Tech guards. About the only thing she did wrong was make a few bad
passes, but those were errors of effort more than anything.

** Craig: Rometra had a rollercoaster of a game, committing some of the
ugliest turnovers I've ever seen and then coming back with big shots and
tough defense. She's remarkably poised for a frosh, which I think is why
Coach G is comfortable in using her. In the early going, she was able to
snag an offensive rebound of her own miss and shovel it into Parent for
a score, but she threw one pass away and then got picked clean by Butler.
This happened again when she reentered a few minutes later, but this time
she made up for it by taking a charge against Butler on the other end.
But she kept fighting, and got fouled going for a rebound. Defying her
early season struggles with free throws, she made 3 out of 4 in the half
and then sank a three with thirty seconds left in the half. While she
struggled with her shot in the second half, only going 1-7, she did score
on a nifty inbounds play. More importantly, she stepped up her defense
(grabbing a steal) and played with a lot more control. She still has a long
way to go in her development as a player, but she's getting there.

** Matyasovsky: When the going gets tough, "Mattie" gets going. Her mental
toughness makes her an essential part of any endgame sequence, because she
always seems to come up with a big rebound, hit a big shot or otherwise be
in the right place at the right time. She basically made an impact the
moment she entered the game, finding Schweitzer and Brown cutting for layups.
Later in the half, when Tech had cut the lead to 34-33, she hit a tough
turnaround jumper in the lane and also sank a couple of free throws. But
it was done the stretch that she really made her mark, hitting 2 high pressure
free throws when Tech had gone on a 9-2 run to creep within a single point.
A minute later, she scored on a cut when Tech had again pulled to within 1.
She could easily be a starter but she's adjusting to her role off the bench
with a great deal of maturity. As a result, she's getting starter's minutes--
she played 25 minutes in this game.

** Brown: Nedra is slowly creeping into the regular rotation as her rebound-
per-minute totals are top-notch. She had 3 boards in 8 minutes of play
tonight and also scored on a cut. Nedra also played pretty solid defense
throughout, putting her quickness to good use. She still fouls too much,
like many of Duke's post players, but she's moving in the right direction.

** West: Just got a cameo appearance, but wasn't quick enough to deal with
Martinez or Butler. Had 1 turnover.

** White: Oh boy. Crystal happened to make a series of crucial errors that
helped Tech get back into the game, though it wasn't entirely her fault.
With about eight minutes left in the game, she made a good initial impression
by blocking a shot, but couldn't grab the rebound. Tech scored on a putback
to pull within 72-63. Crystal drew a foul but missed both shots. On the
next possession, Matyasovsky led her with a pass and she scored easily to
put Duke up 74-66. After a Tech turnover, Duke inbounded under Tech's
basket for a chance to retake control. Crystal missed a short jumper and
seemed to become a bit unravelled. On the next possession, she had an open
floor layup and blew it. Tech scored on an offensive rebound to cut the lead
to 6--a four point swing. Crystal turned the ball over on Duke's next
possession and Tech hit a couple of free throws to cut it to 4 and make it
a real ball game down the stretch. Anyone can miss a layup or a short
jumper, so Crystal just needs to move past this game and keep her confidence
level up. She did block 2 shots and remains Duke's biggest inside presence,
and I'd like to see her get another shot at making an impact.

** Cameron Craziness: With a crowd of 4,107, this midweek game merely drew
the tenth largest crowd in Duke women's history in Cameron. And while the
students were back and they had a bit of a presence, it was mostly older
fans who were treated to an intense, well-played game. While the crowd
does not nearly have the same level of intensity as in a men's game, they
made a difference down the stretch as the fans grew louder and louder.