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Australian Institute Wears Down Duke

The bad news is that the Australian Institute of Sport beat Duke
72-57. The good news is that the Aussies helped to
expose a number of Duke's flaws, which should hopefully make it easier to
correct them.

Duke actually led in this game at the half, but they were handicapped
by only having having 7 healthy players to 11 for the Aussies. Australia
wore Duke down and used a 29-point performance by future WNBA player
Jessica Foley. This team is the 20-and-under national team for the
Aussies, and they play together regularly. There were a few other
differences: the Aussies use the international three point line, which
made an already suspect shooting team suffer an 0-9 drought from the
bonus stripe. Australia also uses the regulation men's ball, as opposed
to the slightly smaller women's ball used in NCAA play.

Alana Beard played very, very well but wore down in the second
half--she only scored 6 of her 20 points in the second frame. Sheana
Mosch also played well, with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The biggest
surprise was the solid play of Crystal White, who had 10 points, 8
rebounds and 4 blocks.

The rest of the team's performance was spotty. The biggest
disappointments were Rometra Craig (5 points, 5 rebounds) and Michele
Matyasovsky (4 points, 8 rebounds). While their performance on the
boards was admirable (and helped assure the US of the rebounding
advantage), they must step up their scoring for Duke to succeed. Iciss
Tillis also needs to step up on offense (just 8 points), but her defense
was remarkable-sounding: 8 boards and 7 blocks! Vicki Krapohl didn't do
much (0 points, 1 assist), but wasn't really expected to. Krista
Gingrich did not play due to injury.

Duke only shot 38% and committed 26 turnovers. The Devils only had 6
steals, a sign that they didn't pressure the ball well against a team of
veterans. While Duke has a long way to go, playing against a team like
this means that you can't simply coast on athleticism and the other
team's mistakes--you have to make plays. Duke was doing that early on,
but let their weariness get the best of them. We'll see what happens in
tomorrow's rematch.

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by Rob Clough