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Duke Erases Howard(Duke Classic, Part 1)

Duke 128, Howard 53. December 6, 2002. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

What do you say about a 75 point win? Not much. The amazing thing
about the game is that Howard actually competed rather well for the twelve
minutes of the game. They had sliced a 15 point Duke lead to 11, before
Alana Beard and Mistie Bass took over the game and led a 28-0 run,
allowing just one late score in the half. 10-0 and 12-0 runs in the
second half continued the absurdity as Howard simply couldn't keep up with
Duke's onslaught at both ends of the court. Even when Duke was calling
off the dogs on defense, Howard simply couldn't buy a shot. As always,
Coach G has different ways of measuring her team's performance. While she
was pleased with the defense and the unselfishness of her team, she was a
bit distressed at the second chances Howard got along with some gambles
that didn't work on defense, especially in the first half.

Howard, a proud MEAC program with a strong tradition, was a bit
intimidated in the early going. They missed 3 shots and had 3 turnovers
on their first 6 possessions. Meanwhile, Iciss Tillis scored 4 points,
Vicki Krapohl hit a three and Mistie Bass hit a couple of free throws to
put Duke up 9-0 just two minutes into the game. Tillis scored on a
rebound as well as in transition, going high to finish a Krapohl pass.
Howard bounced back with 5 straight points, but Duke responded by going
back into Bass, who was fouled once again. This was Mistie's first career
start, and she proved ready and willing to go to work down low. That
triggered an 8-0 run for Duke. Mosch got a steal and threw it to
Beard, who found Tillis on the break for an easy score. Tillis then
relocated the ball after a Howard turnover out to Mosch for a 15' jumper.
After 2 Tillis free throws, Beard then threw the ball inbounds to Tillis,
who simply zipped by the distracted Bison for an easy score. Duke led
19-7 and Tillis led all by herself at 10-7.

Tillis kept it up with another stickback after a Howard score and then
gave way to Lindsey Harding, Wynter Whitley and Jessica Foley. Having a
wave of capable scorers come in has proven to be a big factor in blowing
open games this season. Harding inbounded the ball as Duke formed a stack
along the free throw line, standing shoulder to shoulder. Foley then ran
behind the stack (now acting as a triple screen) and quickly nailed a
three. Jess then found a cutting Whitley for an easy score and a 26-11
lead with twelve minutes to go. Howard scored and an offensive foul by
Foley led to another Howrd score, making it just 26-15. Harding grabbed a
miss and then simply slipped into a different gear. She literally ran the
length of the court untouched as she motored past the entire Howard team,
which looked nailed to the court. Whitley kept her end of the scoring up
with a strong drive and pullup from 5'.

Howard kept fighting back with short drives for jumpers, one of which
came on a Brooke Smith turnover. After a couple of turnovers, Brooke
clearly was fed up with her own play but responded positively, driving to
the basket and scoring on a spinning hook shot. Shari Johnson of Howard
hit a jumper to make it 32-21, but that would be their last score for a
long, long time. Beard came back into the game and immediately found
Harding slithering along the baseline for a score. Duke aggressively went
to the basket and was fouled, with Beard & Bass both hitting 2 freebies in
a row and Howard missing the front end of a one-and-one. Eight Howard
turnovers during the run fueled Duke's dominance, as did 9 consecutive
missed shots. Duke had one sequence where they missed three straight
shots but kept getting offensive rebounds, until finally Michele
Matyasovsky found Bass for a layup. Beard cranked up the pressure,
getting a steal and running a 2-on-1 with Krapohl for a score, and then
finding Krapohl for a three and Mattie for a long jumper.

Tillis then found Bass twice in a row in the paint, while Krapohl set up
Tillis for a turnaround jumper. A couple of late Mosch steals led to
Harding zipping in for a score and Smith setting up down low for scores.
When the dust settled at halftime, it was 60-23, Duke. The Devils had
shot an impressive 55% from the filed, forced 16 turnovers, and only
committed 7 of their own. The only Devil whose shot wasn't working was
Beard, who was just 1-6 from the field. As always, she found many other
ways to contribute with 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in the first
half alone. Howard managed 33% from the floor, though that mark was
higher until the waning moments of the half.

Duke worked on some different things in the second half, using a number
of zones and working on motion a bit more. Early on, Beard scored on a
couple of early cuts, while Bass got a three point play out of a high-low
pass from Tillis. Krapohl fed Duke again for a spin move and score while
Tillis intercepted a pass and got an easy runout. Duke had scored 70
points with fifteen minutes to go in the game! Mosch came in and scored
on a fast break when Beard hit her in stride and Alana showed that her
jumper wasn't completely askew by nailing a 15 footer. A drive by Whitley
and a Smith rebound basket made it 80-33 with thirteen minutes left.

The scoring came fast and furious: another Smith rebound, a pass from
Whitley to Smith after a rebound, Smith hitting a baseline jumper, Harding
getting a steal and layup, and Foley scoring on a cut. Eight missed shots
and 6 turnovers from Howard certainly didn't help their cause. They
finally fought back a bit from the foul line, "cutting" the lead to 04-39
with eight minutes to go. Beard came in after a long rest and immediately
started wreaking havoc once again. First she found Foley for a three,
then she hit a turnaround. Beard then got a steal and runout and found
Krapohl for another three. With over five minutes left, that was all for
Alana, who scored 12 in the second half and once again flirted with a
quadruple-double. The score was 107-44 at that point, but the youngsters
kept up the intensity. Harding scored 4, Whitley scored 6, Smith had 2
assists, and Foley scored 4 down the stretch as Duke scored a record 128
points for the game and 68 for the half. The final numbers were just
ridiculous, with Duke outscoring Howard in the paint 76-12, off turnovers
49-8 and on the fast break 24-0. And of course, the bench scoring margin
was 58-8, the most pleasant statistic of all. There are times when
numbers are deceptive. This was not one of those times.

** Negatives:

1. Blocking out. Duke gave up 12 offensive boards to a much smaller team.
Even when opponents have bad shooting nights, the ideal is to keep it
under 10.

2. Turnovers. 17 is a bit over the team goal of 15 per game, and it came
against a foe that wasn't trying to press that much. Everyone was guilty
here, and 5 players had more than 1 turnover.

3. Defensive rotation. Howard was able to hang around early in the game
because their guards darted around gambling players on defense and found
openings as no one rotated over to help out.

** Positives:

1. Ball pressure. 17 direct steals and 29 total turnovers from Howard,
most of which came under direct pressure. Beard, Mosch & Harding teamed
up for 12 steals!

2. Unselfishness. 35 assists broke a single-game record set back in 1998
and 1999. The 51 field goals made broke a 10-year-old mark. Every
player had at least 1 assist, and 6 players had 3 or more assists.

3. Offensive rebounding. 23 offensive rebounds showed that Duke was
battling after every miss, scoring 25 second chance points.


** Bass: Mistie got her first career start and eventually made the most
of it. She got a bit too excited at the beginning of the game and took
some awkward shots that were a bit outside her range. I think the team
also took a while to adjust to her, since the offense had a very different
look. With a true post presence, Duke ran a 4-out, 1-in motion set. Bass
is incredibly aggressive and looks to score every time she posts up.
There's a good reason: she's hitting over 61% of her shots. I've never
seen a young player look so confident and fearless on offense. If she
misses a shot, she simply goes back to work and takes another attempt.
Mistie did some good work on the boards (an area that was lacking
recently) and even blocked 3 shots. It was also nice to see her go 7-9
from the foul line, because she will be living there her entire career.
The one thing she needs to improve is her passing. While she's economical
with the ball, she will soon be facing double-teams. When this happens,
she will have to learn how to snap the ball out to open shooters. That
aside, her turnaround jumper in the post is an incredible weapon. I love
the way she uses the glass for her shots. While not super quick, she
still gets up and down the court well and has improved dramatically on
defense. Her stock continues to rise.

** Tillis: The birthday girl was superb, especially during the first
half. She showed off her quickness with 2 spectacular transition baskets,
going way high on one of them to finish it off with one motion. Iciss
proved that she doesn't mind doing the dirty work, scoring on a couple of
stickbacks. There was a turnaround jumper in the lane and a quick score
on an inbounds play. Iciss also fed Bass for scores from the high post
and reversed the ball to Mosch for a jumper. She didn't get quite as many
touches in the second half, but did hit a three and got that runout.
Iciss certainly had a height advantage over Howard, but she exploited it
fully. A double-double, 8-11 shooting and 4 assists is quite a good night
for anyone.

** Matyasovsky: After a solid first half where she hit a jumper, got a
couple of steals and blocked a shot, she made a series of mistakes at the
start of the second half. Three consecutive turnovers that contributed to
Duke's overall malaise during this period prompted a quick timeout from
Coach G, who screamed at Mattie in particular. Coach G knows that Mattie
can take it, and the senior simply nodded in agreement--but that tirade
was meant for the entire starting five, not just her. She did pick up her
play a bit with stronger rebounding, but this was not one of her more
memorable games. I'm not too worried--Mattie always seems to pick it up
when the team needs her most and doesn't care about stats.

** Beard: Alana demonstrated rather clearly that a player doesn't need to
score a lot of points in order to dominate a game. Her defense,
rebounding and passing in the first half made the Devils go and staked
Duke out to its big lead, even as she was just shooting 1-6 from the
field. With Alana (and unlike Durham!), such offensive power outages are
quite rare, as she proved in the second half with 12 points in less than
ten minutes. When she starts to get into a rhythm, it's pretty much all
over for her opponent. She will either burn you on the drive or start
sticking her fadeaway, or else go to the foul line. In the second half,
she scored on cuts, spin moves, steals, face-up jumpers and turnaround
jumpers. Her numbers (16 points, 8 boards, 8 assists, 5 steals, 1
turnover) are especially mind-boggling when you consider that she only
played 23 minutes.

** Krapohl: This was a fine game for Vicki, whose steadiness at point is
now making her difficult to unseat as a starter, even if Harding is
getting more minutes overall. She's the deadliest three point shooter in
the ACC, hitting over 55% of her attempts. She was 3-5 against Howard,
scoring early on to really give the Bison something to think about. Vicki
has improved her court vision noticeably this year. Assists have been
coming fast and furious, both in transition and in halfcourt. She had
nice feeds to Alana and Iciss inside and lobbed a pass up to Iciss that
she finished. Her turnovers are down as well. Vicki's defense is solid
though she's obviously not a player who's going to pressure the ball like
Harding. All-in-all, a solid game for this fine role player.

** Mosch: Sheana continues to struggle with her shooting. After nailing
her first jumper, she misfired on 7 of her last 8 shots--and the one make
was a layup in transition. She's even struggling from the foul line,
shooting just 65% after hitting 82% in her career. Mosch is getting the
shots she wants and plenty of them--she's third on the team in field goal
attempts but is an anemic 35% from the field. Her effort on defense
continues to be solid, as her 4 steals in this game indicate. Sheana may
be feeling some pressure to act as the third scorer that Duke needs in Mo
Currie's absence. The bottom line is that she's a senior and is capable
of a big scoring explosion when needed. At some point this season, she
will be needed. Sheana came off the bench in this game, giving Duke a
bigger lineup.

** Harding: Coach G noted that Lindsey really needed to bring up her
shooting numbers in order to get more minutes. Well, going 5-7 (with one
of the misses a halfcourt three attempt at beating the halftime buzzer)
will certainly help. Her shots were mostly layups, though her quick move
along the baseline looking for a good angle was impressive. With the post
players mostly passing to each other for assists, she grabbed her usual 4
rebounds and pressured the other team for 3 steals. All four frosh broke
into double figures for this game.

** Whitley: A really solid game for one of Duke's hardest workers. It
was nice to see her hunt her shot and also work to set up her teammates.
Her only negative were her 3 turnovers, which came when trying to set up
plays but either resulted in errant passes or were thrown too hard. She
did force a held ball situation and had a strong rebounding effort.

** Smith: Brooke is finally starting to look a bit more comfortable on
the floor, though her decision-making isn't always the best. There are
times when she tries to make the tough pass regardless of what the defense
is doing. On the other hand, she played the lanes beautifully and showed
some intense post defense, blocking 2 shots. Brooke was excellent in the
second half, scoring 8 of her 14 points, grabbing 3 boards, picking up 2
assists and both of her blocks. She's still a step slower than her
teammates and is still thinking too much out there. But I liked her fire
in this game. Brooke is definitely working hard but isn't quite at the
same level as her teammates--but she's getting there.

** Foley: While Jess was only 2-5 from three, all of the shots were good
looks. One of them in fact rimmed out on her. As always, Jess made smart
decisions and hustled for rebounds. With her 5 assists and 4 boards, she
really did look like the second coming of Georgia Schweitzer out there.
She actually tipped a few more balls to others after missed shots than was
indicated in the score sheet, but wasn't credited for the rebound.

** Cameron Craziness: Considering the insanity in Durham over the last
few days, the crowd of 2,500 or so was a decent showing. Iciss' pals had a
sign ready for her and sang "Happy Birthday" as the second half began.
The crowd had a lot of folks from Durham who had never been to a women's
game before but who just wanted to go somewhere warm--and I know for a
fact that many of them will be coming back.