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Rob On The Women's Big Win At UNC

Duke 92, UNC 85 (OT). January 25th, 2001. Carmichael Auditorium.

Stats | Box | Notes | Herald-Sun | N&O | Chronicle | Chronicle | Craig feature

Well. Where to begin? I'll begin with a simile. This game was like
a staring contest. And UNC blinked.

Not surprisingly, Duke and UNC brought out the best in each other in
an extremely well-played game for both teams. This was one of UNC's best
performances of the year, in a season where they have struggled quite a
bit. Most notably, the Heels have had issues with shooting the ball,
managing to lose to league doormat Wake Forest by shooting under 30%.
They've also had trouble establishing a post game, although they have a
couple of talented young centers. Against Duke, they shot over 50% and
their post players combined for nearly 30 points. And of course, Duke is
still without Alana Beard and Krista Gingrich, and went through long periods
where it seemed like no one wanted to score.

The most interesting aspect of the game to me was watching Georgia
Schweitzer play. This was by far her best floor game of the year, notching
9 assists against only 1 turnover. But more than that, she bent the team
to her will. She played all 45 minutes of the contest, and there were
periods in the second half where Duke went through a serious scoring drought.
Interestingly, Georgia did not try to force the issue by calling her own
number, especially with UNC's ultra-athletic Juana Brown in her face. She
was determined to get her teammates involved, no matter how much prodding
it took. And in the end, it was the right strategy, because Rometra Craig
and Sheana Mosch came alive to absolutely burn the UNC defense with slick
penetration moves and sharpshooting. Georgia helped instill confidence in
them, and by the end of the game, they were unguardable. And Sheana went
from having a great game in regulation to an absolutely transcendant one
in overtime.

The game started off well for Duke as Craig found Schweitzer in transition
after an awkward jumper by UNC frosh center Candace Sutton. Craig got
another steal which led to some Mosch free throws. After a tip-in by
role player Leah Sharp, Duke struck back with a Parent putback of a Tillis
miss. Georgia found Rometra for a three and then Rometra hit Sheana on
a cut to give Duke an 11-6 lead. After a bricked jumper by LaQuanda
Barksdale, Mosch rebounded and Parent found Georgia for a three. While
Sharp brought them closer with a three, there was then a period of turnovers
and misses by both teams, until Tillis pulled down a Sutton miss and threw
it ahead to Georgia, who converted a three point play. UNC was in disarray
and already trailed by 8 with just five minutes gone by.

But the Heels regrouped behind remarkable soph point guard Coretta Brown.
Brown is filling in for Nikki Teasley while she gets her head together
back home, and has been doing a marvelous job. While she makes a lot of
mistakes and threw a number of bad passes, she's very quick, a good shooter
and a great distributor. Brown hit a jumper and then passed to Sutton,
who finally found her range, and the Heels cut the lead to 17-13. But
Duke proved that even without Beard, they were still a very quick team.
One of UNC's major weaknesses has been a lazy defense; they give up more
points than anyone in the league. Craig drove right at them and no one
stepped in to take a charge, and she just dropped it right in the bucket.
Then Georgia stole the ball and ran a perfect 2-on-1 break and gave it
up to Rochelle for the basket. Ro concluded the mini-run by driving in
for a layup. The Heels were once again in a hole, this time a 23-13 deficit.

I've rarely enjoyed Sylvia Hatchell's style of coaching. She usually
relies too much on gimmick presses and too little on mixing her schemes,
and her players usually employ a very rough style of play. (I still
remember her quote about "I like it when the officials let us play.") But
she used a great scheme in this game, keeping Duke in a halfcourt offense
and forcing them to make decisions against a blend of zone and man defense.
On offense, her players avoided jacking up wild shots (especially her
guards) and concentrated on getting the ball to Barksdale. Duke was allowing
their post players the uncontested 17' jumper, and they started hitting it
more often than not. 5 straight missed Duke shots later, the Heels were
back in it at 23-21, thanks to a strong rebounding show by Barksdale and
frosh Chrystal Baptist.

Not surprisingly, it was Georgia who brought Duke out of its three minute
slump with a floater in the lane. That sparked a huge 17-4 run that featured
4 Carolina turnovers and a number of misses. Duke's post players had a big
role in the run, as Tillis dished off to Matyasovsky, then Tillis led a
break and dished to Mattie on the run. After Rometra hit 2 big free throws,
Mattie found Tillis for a three, and then Iciss drove and hit a fadeaway
jumper. Duke poured it on, as Craig sent in an entry pass to Tillis who
posted up and hit a turnaround jumper. Finally, Rometra drove and sank
a 5' pullup jumper that forced a UNC timeout. UNC's defense looked awful
and their offensive execution was worse. They were taking quick, awkward
jumpers and looked shaky handling the ball. But Barksdale calmed them
down with a jumper and then Duke missed three chances to convert near
the basket.

This energized the Heels, who cut the lead to 40-30 with a minute or so
left. Ro tipped in a missed Craig attempt, but UNC got a reverse three
point play when Barksdale hit a free throw, missed the second and then
got a basket after Juana Brown rebounded the ball. Iciss had a couple of
chances to score in the last minute, but missed both. UNC had managed
to stave off disaster, but they would have to shut Duke down in the
second half.

Duke came out strong in the second half, with Rometra hitting another
short pullup jumper and Georgia ripping down a rebound and finding Mosch
way ahead of the Heel defense for a transition bucket. But Barksdale
started to assert herself, getting a three point play at Tillis' expense
and drawing 2 quick fouls on Parent. Without Ro in there, the Heels went
on a 17-6 run that evaporated Duke's lead, and left them holding a 55-52
lead over the Devils with ten minutes left. Barksdale scored 8 points
during the run, during which the Heels blocked 3 Duke shots and sent the
Duke offense into a coma. Tillis was able to lob it over to Mattie for
a score and hit a 15' jumper, but she also had some attempts blocked.

Once again, it was Schweitzer who guided the team out of the wilderness,
hitting 3 free throws and finding Mosch for a long jumper. Parent came
back into the game with 4 fouls at the ten minute mark, and Duke suddenly
righted itself defensively. At this point, the game became an incredible
nip-and-tuck affair, with momentum switching back and forth. After Georgia
tied it at 55 with nine minutes left, Tillis committed her 4th foul. Then
West fouled Sutton for a three point play, giving the Heels the lead again.
Michele drew Coretta Brown's 4th foul, and then posted up for an easy
basket to bring Duke within 1. Sutton again hurt Duke to put the Heels up
60-57, but Missy found Sheana for a long jumper to once again make the
margin 1 point.

Juana Brown threw up a brick that Georgia rebounded, and was fouled
in the process. She hit both to give Duke back the lead at 61-60. Sutton
powered her way over a helpless-by-fouls frontline to put the Heels back on
top, with a three point play, but Sheana countered with a 5' baseline jumper
--her specialty. After a crucial Heels turnover, Michele nailed a 15'
jumper to put Duke up 65-63 with four minutes left. Sutton came right
back and continued to torture Duke, tying the game. But Duke then went
on an 8-2 run featuring 2 threes and a couple of rebounds by Craig and
a Mosch baseline jumper that put Duke up 73-67 with just two minutes left.
Duke was in control and the Heels seemed dispirited.

Things got even worse for the Heels when Parent took her third charge of
the game, this one on Barksdale. It was an incredibly gutsy move by Ro,
who was on the verge of fouling out. But Mosch threw the ball away, and
UNC quickly scored. Running down the clock, Mosch suddenly got wide open
under the basket. Schweitzer found her just a bit late, and Mosch had to
put up a tougher shot that rolled out. Juana Brown then hit a three that
brought the Heels to within 73-72 with thirty seconds left. Duke inbounded
it to Mosch, who was immediately fouled and swished 2 foul shots. Craig
fouled Coretta Brown, who hit 1 of 2 to make it 75-73. Parent corralled
the rebound, but only made 1 of 2 on her attempts. With 22 seconds left,
UNC was down 76-73, and they had a shot at OT.

Craig and Schweitzer were all over Barksdale and J.Brown, but after a
succession of screens, Barksdale broke loose and sank a three with 1.8
seconds left in the game. It was an incredible shot under pressure, and
it sent the disbelieving Devils into OT. Duke had had the game won in all
sorts of ways, and once again gave up a lead. But while Duke has been known
to give up leads this year, they've also been known to find ways to win.

UNC won the OT tip-off and the two teams traded missed threes. After
a brick by Cherie Lea of UNC, Sheana rebounded the ball. Iciss got it
but immediately turned it over, leading to a C.Brown jumper. Rochelle
turned it over on the next play, and Barksdale hit a short hook to put
the Heels up 4 with three and a half minutes left. Duke didn't blink,
however. Duke brought the ball up, passed it into Tillis, who passed it
back out to--who else?--but Georgia Schweitzer, who canned a three to make
it a 1 point game again. After that, Sutton posted up for another hoop (she
wound up with 19) and was fouled by Georgia. But UNC had a lane violation,
and Duke had the ball back. But after two cracks at the basket by Mosch
and Matyasovsky, the Heels got the rebound. But Rochelle came through with
a big defensive play, stripping J.Brown of the bal. Georgia drove and dished
out to Mosch, who hit only her second three of the year. Considering
that she had been hitting 19' jumpers all night, it made sense for her
to finally step behind the stripe and shoot. This shot tied the game at 82
with a minute thirty left in the game.

Then came another enormous play. Rometra was shadowing C.Brown and got
into perfect position for a charge when she sensed Brown was going to try
to blow right past her. The charge was called and Brown fouled out. While
Georgia missed the subsequent shot that would have given Duke the lead,
a lot of damage had been done, because the Tar Heel backcourt became
unravelled. Still, Lea found Barksdale to give the Heels an 84-82 lead,
but Duke didn't blink. Instead, Georgia drove again and found Sheana for
her favorite little 5' baseline jumper. There was a minute left and the
score was tied. UNC blinked.

Juana Brown was running point, got careless with her dribble and Sheana
grabbed it right out of her hands, running it all the way back and getting
fouled by Barksdale as she laid it in. She hit the free throw and Duke
was up 3 with 39 seconds. UNC got the ball to Sutton, who was fouled and
nearly made the basket. But instead, she only hit 1 of 2. Blink blink.

The Heels immediately fouled Mosch on the inbounds, and Sheana just
happens to be Duke's best foul shooter. She sank both to give Duke a
2 possession lead at 89-85 with 25 seconds left. Brown had it stolen
again, this time by Schweitzer, who threw it downcourt to a streaking Mosch,
giving Duke a 91-85 lead with nine seconds left. Blink blink blink...

Lea threw the ball out of bounds on the next possession, Mosch hit 1 of 2,
and that gave Duke its final margin. What this game shows is how close
the margin between victory and defeat is in this league. Duke has won their
last several games by tiny margins, and UNC has lost a number of close
games. In the end, it comes down to mental toughness and leadership.
Without Coretta Brown out there, the team completely collapsed--they couldn't
handle the ball at all and Duke took advantage. More importantly, Barksdale
stopped receiving the ball, taking her out of the equation altogether.
Speaking of staying in the game, Ro played the last 16 minutes of the game
with 4 fouls--a testament to her self-discipline. All-in-all, this was
the most entertaining basketball game I've seen all year.

** Negatives:

1. Post defense. When Parent was out, it was a disaster. Matyasovsky was
not quick enough to deal with Barksdale, and the foul-ridden Tillis was
helpless against Sutton when she got good position. When Ro was able to
shadow Barksdale, UNC became much less effective.

2. Offensive movement. There was a long period in the second half when the
offense truly stagnated. No one was setting screens and it seemed like no
one wanted to shoot, either. But once Mosch decided that she was going to
carry the load, Duke simply worked on getting the ball to her or Craig,
where they confidently took good shots.

3. Finishing. Duke blew a couple of layups, including one by Mosch that
probably would have finished the Heels off with about 40 seconds left.

** Positives:

1. Mental toughness. Duke has started to take on the persona of Schweitzer
in that they remain calm in the face of adversity. Duke stormed back to
take a second half lead after UNC was riding a tidal wave of momentum and
then took over OT after UNC had a 4 point edge and even more momentum. The
"next play" philosophy that Schweitzer embodies makes it difficult to beat
Duke--you have to go all-out to wipe them out. I also loved the fact
that Duke only turned it over 11 times--the team is starting to get used
to one another.

2. Foul shooting. Especially from Sheana, who sank a cool 8 of 9 in pressure
packed situations. This had been a problem this year, but Duke turned it
into a weapon.

3. Defensive pressure. Duke didn't use the press that much, but they put
selective pressure on the UNC point guards, and made them make decisions they
weren't comfortable with.


** Tillis: Iciss had an up-and-down game, but was strong enough to stay in
the game with 4 fouls and get some important rebounds. She was truly on a
scoring rampage at the end of the first half but was completely shut down
by Sutton and Baptist in the second. She had 3 nice assists to Matyasovsky
and a crucial pass to Schweitzer in OT. UNC threw an intense attack at
Iciss with their post players, and she got a bit overwhelmed in the second
half. She still kept her head and stayed in the game, which was crucial
because she was needed for her rebounding.

** Parent: Wow. An incredible effort for Duke's emotional leader. She had
an absolutely sensational first half, scoring 8 points on 4-5 shooting,
grabbing 5 rebounds and finding Georgia twice for baskets. Throw in a steal
and a charge and you practically have a game's worth of contributions.
While she couldn't quite stem the tide of Sutton's momentum, she did slow
down Barksdale enough so that the Heels weren't slicing up Duke's defense.
And her very presence on the court calmed everyone down. She had 2 big
second half assists, one to Craig and one to Matyasovsky, and amazingly
took 2 charges after she picked up her fourth foul. She also had a huge
steal in overtime. Other than Peppi Browne, I can't think of a single
player who was a better defender in Duke's history.

** Craig: Simply the best game of her young career. 17 points, 8 boards,
5 assists, 2 steals and a charge taken at a crucial juncture speaks of a
player who's growing up. While she's always had confidence and poise, she's
getting a better feel for the game and learning how and when to use her
quickness. She outhustled the Heels for many rebounds, getting 3 offensive
boards. Her short pullup jumper has become a reliable weapon and her three
point shooter is becoming more and more accurate. Her 2 threes late in
the game were huge momentum swingers. She did a great job on the Browns,
matching them step for step and forcing them into mediocre shooting
nights. And she even nailed both of her free throws, an area of concern
for her. If she can step up like this defensively against Clemson, Duke
will have a good shot at winning that game.

** Mosch: Started off cold, but kept shooting until she began to believe
that she was going to be a difference maker. She really warmed up in
the second half and went super-nova in OT. She was by far the quickest
player on the floor; none of the UNC players could stay in front of her.
Duke made sure she got the ball where she was comfortable, and she fired
away. She hit several long jumpers, but none more important than the three
she hit in overtime. She was 10-20 for the game but hit 9 of her last 4
shots. The greater the pressure, the more she excelled. In her spare time,
she also managed to get 4 rebounds to go with the rest of her monster night.
Sheana was Duke's finisher in this game, set up ably by Craig and Schweitzer,
who wanted her to take over.

** Schweitzer: Brilliant all-around game. Scored when she needed to, passed
when she needed to, and stayed out of foul trouble. She scored 10 of Duke's
first 25 points, settling her team in. Then she sat back and ran things for
a bit, looking to get everyone involved. She sensed that UNC was going to
guard her closely after her initial outburst, and so forced the issue by
going to Craig and Mosch. UNC was willing to let those players beat them,
and that's what happened. They weren't ready for the kind of performances
they gave, and it's clear that Georgia sensed they were capable of it and
so made sure to go to them. Georgia's play in OT was simply magical. That
big three that gave her team a big boost of confidence, that strip of Brown,
and the go-for-the-throat passes to Sheana that wiped out the Heels are
emblematic of her hatred of losing.

** Matyasovsky: While Mattie had some trouble on defense, she once again
made a number of incredibly timely shots. She was fed twice by Iciss in
the first half and passed back to Iciss for a three. In the second half,
she hit a late shot that broke a tie and hit an earlier shot that brought
Duke to within 1. Michele will continue to need to step up against Clemson,
especially her shooting since Clemson will try to push Duke away from the

** West: Needless to say, this wasn't a good showing by Missy, who was
visibly frustrated when she went to the bench. While she did have the 1
assist to Sheana, her shot simply wouldn't fall. The Heels were
practically begging her to shoot by the end of her stint in the game.
And on one break, she was so desperate to score that she charged into
Barksdale. Missy is a mentally tough woman who will come out of her
slump--I think all she needs is for one shot to drop and she'll relax.
The team still needs her, especially since she's the only player who can
back up Georgia at point guard.

** White: Crystal had a brief but memorable appearance late in the first
half. In an effort to prevent Parent from picking up her third foul, Coach
G tried Crystal in the post with less than a minute to go in the half.
Crystal responded by blocking Coretta Brown's shot into the hands of Craig.
Despite her limited minutes, she still has an impressive 14 blocks on the

** Carmichael Commentary: This was my first game in Carmichael in about five
years, when I saw a valiant Duke team led by Kira Orr and Ali Day fall to
the Heels. While the final attendance count was 5,400, many of these were
late arrivals and at least 500 were Duke fans. I was almost offended--don't
they hate Duke enough to get a big turnout? I also noticed that with the
exception of the Carolina Fever drones (said one wag of a young lady painted
blue with an "L" completing a group of shirtless fans spelling out
"CAROLINA"--"L needs a shirt"), the crowd didn't cheer much, until they
finally took the lead. The small Duke section was pretty loud throughout
much of the game, although in the last few minutes of regulation the
entire crowd was swept up in the drama of the game, the noise heightening
the action on the court. One amusing bit: four Duke students came out
and sat right behind the basket, shirtless and spelling out "DUKE".
Three UNC fans ran over to them and stood right beside them, spelling out
"SUX". The first Duke fan turned around, while the third and fourth
spelled out "NC" to go along with the second fan's "U" and turned
around. You get the picture! Best cheer of the night: at the end of the
game, with Duke in control, a number of Duke fans started chanting "Our

** Next Game: The return game against Clemson, the only team that has beaten
Duke this year. This time it's in Cameron, but Duke must face them without
Beard, who had a double-double against the Tigers back in December. Duke
must do two things to win: 1) Control Erin Batth. Batth creamed Duke in
December, posting up at will and shooting jumpers. Parent must stay out
of foul trouble and chase her around. 2) Control Chrissy Floyd. Floyd is
a deadly penetrator and master of the mid-range jumper. She's one of the
leading scorers in the league and rarely misses. Clemson is a great shooting
team from inside the paint, the perimeter and the foul line. They also
don't turn the ball over much. What they don't do is rebound very well.
Duke must attack the boards but prevent Clemson from running at the same
time. This means that Iciss and Ro will have to attack the boards hard
without pushing off. Duke hasn't lost to Clemson in Cameron since 1995,
but Jim Davis' Tigers are confident. It will take a defensive job at the
level of the Virginia game to win. The last key is Clemson's point
guard, Krystal Scott. While not a spectacular player, she makes their
motor run with great passing and decision-making. Look for Duke to try
to pressure her into making mistakes.