Duke 66, Georgia State 48. March 23, 2003. Reynolds Coliseum.
As the man who won so many games in Reynolds once said, "Survive and
Advance." And that's just what Duke did against Georgia State. Frankly,
they seemed almost bored, as if they weren't willing to go all-out against
a 16 seed. Other than Alana Beard, the upperclassmen seemed strangely
somnolent, especially at the defensive end. This was a game where it felt
like Duke wanted to be up 20 at the beginning of the game and weren't
quite willing to play hard enough on a possession-by-possession basis to
make this happen. Interestingly enough, it was the freshmen who came in
and added a nice spark for the team, especially in the second half.
Georgia State's coach cried before and after the game that her team got
screwed in the seedings. It's hard to disagree with her, considering
their tough schedule, NCAA tournament history and experience. The Lady
Panthers had three legitimate scoring threats in center Evita Rogers and
guards Angelina Miller & Patechia Hartman. Beyond that, it was all role
players. Still, with their disciplined experience, they proved to be a
tough draw. The first problem they presented for Duke is that they
simply did not turn the ball over. Duke had 5 first half steals while
Georgia State only coughed it up once otherwise. It wasn't until Duke
really cranked up the pressure in the second half that GSU was put away.
It was clear that this was no typical #16 seed.
GSU was badly outsized, which accounted for Duke's +13 rebounding
advantage. They also didn't have Duke's quickness, accounting for Duke's
+15 edge on the offensive boards. So they went zone early and often, and
this was a wise strategy in more ways than one. Duke has struggled
against the zone at times this year. It's not because Duke lacks
shooters, though they don't have a Caitlin Howe to bust any zone she
encounters. The problem is that Duke doesn't patiently find the holes in
a zone in order to get the best shots. The result is either passing the
ball around the stripe without making the defense work at all, or else
firing up the first quasi-open look. Both options left GSU nice and
rested when it came time to play offense. It didn't help that Duke missed
a huge number of wide-open layups. Some of them came off penetration
through the zone, but many of them were from offensive rebounds. Beard,
Bass, Mosch, Tillis and Foley all missed point-blank shots. This
frustrated the team, which is understandable. However, this frustration
spilled over on the defensive end, where Duke was amazingly passive for
much of the game.
Sometimes shots just won't go down, especially after a long layoff.
That's to be expected. What was baffling was the way Duke played defense.
Other than Beard, who attacked every loose ball like her life depended on
it, the team let Georgia State more or less take any shots they wanted.The Lady Panthers got plenty of open looks from three, and hit 55% of them
(6-11). For the first 28 minutes of the game, it seemed like every time
Duke was ready to put them away, GSU would get an open look from three and
inch ever closer. Finally, Duke woke up and shattered GSU's offense,
rending it to bits with pressure defense. Duke finally was playing like
Duke again, but it took them a long time to get there. This approach
won't cut it during the rest of the tournament, including the second
Beard scored Duke's first five points on a post-up, a free throw and a
drive. The latter score put Duke up 5-4, but the two teams would go back
and forth for a couple of minutes. Michele Matyasovsky scored on a cut
from a Tillis pass, while Tillis hit a three on a Sheana Mosch feed.
After Mosch hit a three in the corner on a Vicki Krapohl pass, Duke got
the ball back and Wynter Whitley hit an awkward, driving 10' jumper. Duke
was up 15-8 and seemed to be ready to extend their lead. Instead, GSU
responded with a three. Beard tossed up a lob to Tillis for a spectacular
layup, and the unimpressed Panthers responded with another three to cut
the lead to 17-14.
Coach G was using a variety of lineups in an effort to find one that
would give a consistent effort. In the first half, everyone was forcing
things. With shots not falling, everyone suddenly got skittish about
shooting. That three did seem to wake Duke up a bit, as they responded
with a 10-3 run. It began with Duke going back to the basics by driving
as hard as possible. Lindsey Harding and Mosch both hit some free throws.
Beard then caught and cleanly fired off her trademark 15' baseline jumper
for a score, and then came back and posted up for a hoop on her next
possession. After a three by GSU, Beard stole a rebound away from the
Panthers and sank a three of her own. The Devils led 27-17 with under
seven minutes to go in the half and seemed to have come up with the
answers they needed.
The Panthers fired back with 4 straight points until Tillis pulled up
with a little 5' jumper. GSU then ran off a 6-0 run as Duke could get
nothing to go down. Finally, with over a minute left, Harding drove and
hit a driving 5' jumper. That was the last score before the half, with
Duke leading by just 31-27. Only Beard was in double digits, with 12
points on 10 attempts. She had a third of the team's attempts and nearly
half of the team's makes! The only other player with more than one field
goal was Tillis, with 7 points on 3-5 shooting. Also of note was that
Duke was only 4-6 from the foul line.
Beard got the second half off to a nice start by scoring on a drive, but
GSU would score twice in a row to cut the lead to just 2 at 33-31. GSU
coming that close seemed to both anger and focus the Devils. Beard found
Matyasovsky on a cut and then Vicki hit Iciss for a three after a Krapohl
three had just missed. Duke matched three points from GSU with three
points from free throws. A three point play kept GSU in the game, but
Duke responded with a run that basically knocked them out of the game.
Mosch pulled up for a 10' jumper that finally fell (after missing 3 easy
shots). Foley got a rebound basket to fall, while Krapohl finally hit a
three. That made 18 consecutive games with a three for her, though she
hasn't been shooting them all that accurately. A Foley free throw made it
49-37, with under eight minutes to go.
Beard hit free throws, which put Duke up 52-39. After 4 straigt GSU
points, Beard hit a pair of foul shots to make it 54-43. Duke then turned
up the pressure, with Tillis & Harding recording back-to-back steals &
layups. The latter also managed to get a three point play. While Georgia
State managed to score right after that, they were scoreless over the next
two minutes. That's when Jess Foley went to work, hitting a 3 and
knocking down 4 straight foul shots.
Duke's FG% in the second half was an awful 29% (9-31). However, they
worked a lot harder around the basket and wound up going 14-17 from the
line. A much more active defense effort forced 10 turnovers, including
back-to-back steals that essentially iced the game. While Duke did not
play well, they got their act together enough to make sure that GSU would
not be in the game in the final minutes. Duke certainly did not want
another Wake Forest/ACC Tournament scenario on their hands.
1. Perimeter defense. The guards were extremely late in covering open
shooters, allowing a number of good looks. This wasn't just their fault,
but rather a complete breakdown in communication and carrying out the game
2. Shot selection. Duke too often shot quickly, off the wrong foot, or
put up weak shots that didn't bounce in. The latter shots were the most
annoying; Duke could have wound up with several more three point plays
instead of coming up empty so many times.
3. Aggressiveness. The Devils were unusually passive on defense, pretty
much allowing GSU to take the shots that they wanted. Duke didn't really
attack the passing lanes until the second half and didn't apply much
pressure to ballhandlers.
1. Offensive rebounding. Seven of Duke's 10 players had at least 1
offensive rebound. Three of them had at least 4 (Mosch, Foley, & Beard).
Duke's 25-2 advantage on second-chance points is essentially what won them
2. Bench play. Foley and Bass both played with a lot of energy and hit
the boards hard. Mosch did well in tracking down long misses and hit a
3. Post defense. Duke was very active here, allowing Rogers few good
looks inside. Beard's four blocks were all remarkable, including one
where she blocked the shot from behind, grabbed it out of the air, and
then saved it to a teammate as she was falling out of bounds.
** Tillis: Iciss put up some solid numbers by the end of the game: 12
points, 6 boards, 3 steals. But shooting 5-14 on mostly weak jumpers and
scoring only 12 points just isn't going to get it done against good teams.
Duke needs her to have her "A" game in this tournament, and at best she
was a "B-" in this one. She did hit a couple of threes (though taking 6
of them was probably a bit of overkill), but she didn't use her quickness
to get the ball inside for better looks. With her ballhandling, she
should have had a chance to dribble into some soft spots in the zone and
pull up for easy jumpers. Iciss let a smaller team dictate the action
instead of forcing the action. She has a huge matchup ahead against
Utah's Kim Smith; a big game from Iciss here and a shutdown of Smith will
nearly guarantee a Duke victory.
** Matyasovsky: Mattie scored on a couple of her patented cuts as she
once again moved well without the ball. She did seem visibly frustrated
at times when the offense stagnated, and also was less than robust on
defense and on the boards. Like many of her teammates, she didn't have a
bad game, but didn't have a great one, either.
** Beard: The one good thing about this game is that Alana looked rested,
ready and hungry. She scored in flurries, utilizing her post up skills,
her driving ability, her short-range jumper, her long-range jumper and her
foul shooting. Alana was Duke's best post defender, with 8 rebounds and 4
blocks. Beard spread the ball around with 3 assists to just 1 turnover
and came up with a couple of steals. She also forced a held ball and took
a charge. One could tell that she was reluctant to completely take over
the game, not wanting to duplicate a Virginia scenario, and this was a
wise move. The team eventually woke up and scored the last 12 points of
the game without her. The big run that turned the score from 41-37 to
49-37 was also accomplished without her. Hopefully Alana has plenty of
energy left to guard Utah.
** Krapohl: A rough game for Vicki, who was just 1-6 from three and who
missed some defensive assignments. Still, the one long range shot she did
sink gave Duke a double-digit lead that they never relinquished. Vicki
simply needs to relax a bit; she's rushing her shots in the face of
opponents running at her. If she can fire a bit more quickly when she has
a screen and if her teammates can do a better job of getting her hard
screens, she'll be much more effective.
** Harding: Lindsey's play ranged from brilliant to unfocused. At times,
she was a fearsome perimeter defender, forcing turnovers and getting
runouts. At other times, she missed defensive assignments and rotations
and let the opponent get too many open looks. In other words, she looked
like a talented freshman in her first NCAA game. She did have a couple of
inexplicable turnovers (tossing the ball to a GSU player in an almost Fred
Brown-to-James Worthy fashion), but came up with 4 steals, 5 boards and 4
assists. As always, she did a nice job in feeding Beard inside. Her
steal and three point play runout was a crucial one and showed that she
was trying hard to improve even during the game, not letting a slow start
get her down.
** Mosch: Sheana had an up-and-down game. Like everyone else, she had
trouble getting her shot to fall, missing a few close-in shots. I would
have liked her to attack the basket a bit harder than she did, however. I
did like the fact that she launched a three, because she was wide open in
the corner. Not a bad game, but one where she could have asserted herself
a bit more.
** Whitley: Not Wynter's best effort. I liked the fact that she was
active with the ball and hit a jumper. I didn't like the fact that she
didn't have a single rebound or steal. She's in there for defense and
rebounding, and didn't really live up to that in this game--which is
probably why she only played 6 minutes. Wynter needs to get a lot tougher
than this, because Duke desperately needs her experience off the bench.
** Bass: Mistie worried about just one thing: rebounding. She went after
every rebound, played physical defense and generally toughened Duke up
inside. It was a shame to see her miss so many shots, because she was at
point-blank range for them.
** Foley: Jess had a terrific game, despite struggling from the field
(2-6). She knocked down a three and had a rebound, but more importantly
wasn't afraid to get fouled. Seeing her hit the boards was also a welcome
sight, especially for a player who doesn't necessarily like physical play.
Foley was hungry for the basketball, and Duke needed that kind of attitude
in this game.
** Smith: Brooke did a good job in hitting the boards when she came in,
but couldn't quite finish a nice pass throw to her.