Duke 79, Georgia Tech 60. December 30, 2001. Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
This game wasn't televised, but I do have the play by play so I can
make a few comments. First of all, Georgia Tech returned star guard
Niesha Butler from academic suspension. Her results were mixed, to say
the least: 9 points on 2-18 (!) shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4
turnovers. I would guess that Alana Beard was guarding her. In the
first five minutes, Vicki Krapohl and Sheana Mosch both hit threes, with
Alana missing another. Duke showed a real commitment to aggressively
going after zones by taking good shots. Duke led 10-6 after the first
five minutes on the strength of their outside games.
Tech went ice-cold over the next five minutes, scoring just one basket,
while Duke took advantage. Monique Currie provided instant offense by
scoring on a three point play in transition and drawing two more fouls.
Krista Gingrich came off the bench and hit a three, and Duke had a
comfortable 23-8 lead. Tech went on a 7-0 run to get back into it,
relying on their great rebounding (they had 18 offensive rebounds for the
game). Michele Matyasovsky came in and hit her first shot, and that
seemed to give her confidence throughout the game. Currie also hit
another jumper (her ninth point in just six minutes of play) to put Duke
back up 27-16 with seven minutes left in the half.
Both teams went cold for the next couple of minutes, including three
consecutive misses after offensive rebounds by Currie. Tech started
going to the offensive boards once again to pull within 27-20 with five
minutes to go. Back-to-back threes from Iciss Tillis and Matyasovsky
gave Duke a 33-20 lead, but the Jackets used 3 more offensive rebounds to
pull within 33-28. Currie dished to Matyasovsky for another jumper, but
Tech pulled to within 35-32 at the half. The Devils turned the ball over
with less than ten seconds to go in the half, trying to hold it for a
final possession. Beard had a rough half with 5 turnovers and just 2
points--easily her worst half of the year. None of Duke's starters were
exactly stellar, with Mosch only with 3, Tillis 5 and Whitley 3 points
apiece. It was Duke's bench, noticeably absent against Tennessee, that
stepped up with 19 points.
The revved-up Jackets scored 4 straight points coming out of the half
to take the lead for the first time at 36-35. That was thanks to
back-to-back turnovers from Whitley and Tillis. Duke got the lead back
on a three-point play by Mosch and an offensive stickback by Whitley.
Both teams were very cold in the first five minutes of the half, but Tech
tied things up again at 40 with fifteen minutes to go. Currie and Tillis
both scored to put Duke up 44-42, but 4 straight Duke turnovers helped
Tech to a 6-0 run to give them their biggest lead at 48-44.
After a Tillis basket, Matyasovsky got a rebound and was fouled. She
nailed both shots, and then sank a three that put Duke up 51-50 after Tech
had scored. Duke turned up the defense a bit and Tech got rattled. Beard
scored on a stickback after she started the possession with a steal.
Currie continued her success off the dribble by drawing a foul and
hitting her freebies, and then Matyasovsky drew an offensive foul on the
next possession and hit 2 more. Michele's grit and toughness, absent for
much of the season, was winning the day for Duke. Duke was now up 58-51
with seven minutes left.
The Devils finished up strong. More than anything, it was keeping Tech
away from the offensive boards that tipped things in their favor, along
with valuing the ball better. Beard forced a turnover that led to Mosch
dishing to Currie on the break. A Tech jumper was matched by Tillis
hitting a three. The Devils looked to run as much as possible, with a
break started by a Beard rebound that led to Tillis dishing to Currie
putting Duke up 68-57 with four minutes left. From there, it was mostly
free throws and Duke controlling the defensive boards. The Devils
actually ended up outrebounding the Jackets 36-34.
Tech's aggressive defense forced 14 steals, and Duke did not handle it
well. Beard and Whitley combined for 14 turnovers. The only starter who
wound up in double figures was Tillis, who used her short game, three
point game, and her ability to get fouled to her advantage. Beard still
had 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block to help make up for her 6
points on the night. Mosch led the team in assists with 5, a first for
this season. But it was Currie's double-double (18 and 10, with 4-11
shooting from the floor but 10-10 from the line) and Matyasovsky's
brilliant overall game (16 points, 3 rebounds, 5-6 shooting) that carried
the day for Duke. Mattie really needed a good game to get her going,
because she simply hadn't found a rhythm to her play thus far. She
played to her strengths and didn't make mistakes. As for Mo, she needs
to take shots and go to the basket, and that's just what she did. I was
happy to see her have no fear out there. The Devils had trouble
defending Tech's big center Sonja Mallory (Whitley picked up 4 fouls
trying to do it) and ultra-tough guard Milli Martinez. But Duke wore
them down eventually--it was nice to see Duke's depth actually as a big
plus here. More important than anything else, Duke picked up their second
ACC road win of the year before January even started.
by Rob Clough