Duke 102, Clemson 45. February 27, 2004. Cameron Indoor Stadium.
During the pre-game ceremony honoring Duke's senior class, one could
sense a wave of emotion hitting the team. They got more and more fired up
as parents were introduced and honors were listed. And hearing "her
number 20 will hang in the rafters of Cameron" was the biggest emotional
trigger of all. I got the sense that there was absolutely no way that
Duke could lose this game. What I didn't expect was a margin of
victory this big, especially against a solid Clemson club that is
fighting for its NCAA life. The fans in Cameron were rewarded with a
remarkable night that featured some jaw-dropping plays and a team that
genuinely enjoys playing together.
Duke channeled their pregame emotion into a shot of adrenaline that got
them out to a huge early lead. Five minutes into the game, Duke led 18-2.
Clemson missed their first 5 shots and turned the ball over 3 times as the
Devils were on fire. It started with a Mo Currie drive for a three point
play. Alana Beard then stole the ball on the subsequent play and got a
runout. Duke used a zone trap with great effectiveness throughout the
game, jumping the ballhandler who couldn't dribble through it effectively.
It especially worked well when starting point Kanetra Queen went out of
the game with 2 quick fouls and Julie Talley had to take the reins for a
bit. While a good shooter, Talley was no match for Duke's pressure, and
she turned it over the moment she got into the game, and again when the
Tigers succumbed to a shot clock violation with the ball in her hands.
Currie was hot early on, getting a rare steal and runout and a
stickback. Vicki Krapohl got the Senior Day start and drove the lane,
dishing to Tillis for a three. Duke went to its bench early as Lindsey
Harding hit Brittany Hunter on a cut. After a lull that lasted a couple
of minute, Hunter hit Bass inside on a high-low play. After forcing
Lakeia "Chicken Bone" Stokes into a turnover, Beard picked up the ball on
the right side of the court, drove to her right, and finished with her
right hand in traffic. I make note of this since there are many who claim
that Beard has no right hand; it just isn't true. Duke led 22-6 with
about twelve minutes to go in the half, but their initial jolt of
adrenaline had worn off and they were starting to have trouble executing.
The problem was turning the ball over; it wasn't that the Devils were
throwing the ball away, it was that players were getting whistled for
travelling, 3 second lane violations or offensive fouls. Once Duke
cleaned that up, things got better.
After the Tigers pulled within 22-10, Tillis & Harding went to work.
Iciss pulled up from 15' on the baseline to break a scoring droght, and
then passed inside-out to Harding for a three. That gave Duke their
biggest lead at 17 points, but they'd go a bit cold again for a minute,
during which time Clemson cut the lead to 14. Beard responded with a
stickback, but a three point play by Stokes made it 30-17. Foley drove
and found Krapohl open for a three, and that shot seemed to unstick Duke's
defense. All of sudden, Duke found gaps in Clemson's zone and they
gleefully exploited them. Harding hit a 15' jumper, and then Krapohl
nailed a three to put Duke up by 20. Beard then stole the ball on a bad
pass and seemed hellbent on getting to the basket. Instead, she broke off
a gorgeous behind-the-back pass to Tillis on her right and Iciss finished
the play. Jim Davis called a timeout and one could sense that this could
be the game's tipping point. Clemson went inside and missed, and Duke
wasted little time in attacking Clemson's man-to-man with Harding finding
Brittany Hunter inside. The Devils then forced another shot clock
violation as Davis was having a conniption fit on the sidelines, and
Harding attacked the rim, hitting 2 foul shots. With two minutes left in
the half, Duke led 44-18 and was in complete control.
The only thing helping Clemson was Duke's propensity for fouling in the
first half. The problem was that the Tigers weren't hitting many of them,
going 2-6 from the line in the last two minutes of the half. Clemson hit
just 10-21 in the half, with hard-working forward Maggie Slosser shooting
3-10. The unkindest cut came when Foley found Beard on a cut. Slosser
missed 2 free throws with six seconds to go. Amanda White rebounded, but
Harding ripped the ball out of her hands and raced up the court. With one
second left on the clock, she pulled up from 15' and drained the jumper.
That gave Duke a 48-20 halftime lead and all of the momentum.
Clemson was just 5-18 from the field at the half. The remarkable thing
about this was not just the "5", but also the "18"--Duke made as many
shots as Clemson attempted. The Tigers had almost as many turnovers (16)
as points (20). This wasn't Elon that Duke was playing, but a team that
had won 17 games and 7 in conference, with a first-team all-conference
player in Chicken Stokes. The only things that kept Clemson in the game
early on were Duke's 15 first-half fouls and 9 turnovers. Clemson made as
many foul shots (10) as Duke attempted, and both Currie & Bales picked up
3 fouls. Another interesting feature of the half is that although Beard
scored 10 points, she did not hunt her shot at all. Two of her field
goals came from runouts, another from a stickback, and the last a finish
on a cut. She did get a couple of free throws after a drive and missed a
three, but Beard otherwise focused on defense and rebounding. She was
successful at both, holding Stokes to 4 points on 1-5 shooting and
forcing 2 turnovers. Clemson was also throwing a box-and-one on Beard at
times, and Alana simply wasn't interested in forcing the issue. Of
course, once the Tigers let her get some good looks at the basket, things
got seriously ugly in a hurry.
After Stokes opened up the second half with a three (her last points of
the game), Beard went to work. She scored on a feed from Bass, hit a
turnaround jumper in the lane, and then pulled up for a three. After
another Clemson miss, Currie drove and passed to Krapohl for a three. At
the first timeout, Duke now led 58-23 and the game was pretty much over.
After Beard scored on a nice find from Bass, Alana sat out the next few
minutes. This period was marked by the all-out hustle of Monique Currie,
who went after rebounds, drove hard to the basket, and made some nice
feeds. The best came after the ball was bobbled and she dove to the floor
under the basket to retrieve it. Lying flat on her back, she tossed the
ball to Tillis, who scored.
Jess Foley then started to contribute, hitting a three. Currie
finished a fast break triggered by a Tillis block/rebound & pass. Beard
came back in with about eleven minutes left and absolutely went berserk.
She drove and hit 2 free throws, then scored on a stickback. As she came
nearer and nearer to Johnny Dawkins' school scoring record of 2556, the
crowd started to chant how many points she needed. She pulled up for a
three and drained it, and later hit a tough 15' jumper with about seven
minutes left. Beard cramped up a bit after that, and to be fair, the
Devils had an 84-35 lead. Remarkably, she had scored 18 points in only
nine second half minutes and tallied 28 points on 13 shots.
Duke did not let down when she left. The Devils went inside-out for the
rest of the game, pounding it inside to Hunter, Bass & Tillis, while
Caitlin Howe, Dana Morgan and Foley all hit threes. Amazingly, this was
the first time that Clemson under Jim Davis had given up 100 points in
regulation, and was the worst loss in the history of the program. Duke
shot well (but not absurdly well--53% overall, 41% from three) and only
turned the ball over twice in the second half. The Devils kept the Tigers
off the foul line in the second half (only 5 attempts) and forced 24
turnovers on the night. Jim Davis was a good sport about it afterwards,
saying that "this wasn't a whippin', it was a whuppin'" and that "this
Duke team would beat my Clemson team 99 times out of 100, and I was fool
enough to think that this was that one time." I've never seen one of his
teams play with so little passion in a half, as more than a few players
seemed to quit. It wasn't until their deep subs came in that you saw
players going all-out again. The good news for the Tigers is that this is
just one loss, and that an NCAA berth is still theirs for the taking if
they beat Maryland on Sunday. As for Duke, Beard noted that consistency
is still their goal, and that this game went a long way in establishing
1. Fouling. Six different players had at least 2 first half fouls as
Clemson wisely took advantage of the fact that the refs weren't calling a
lot of charges. Of course, the fact that Duke's posts were sometimes a
bit late in getting to the right spot and didn't always have their hands
up didn't help. If Clemson had been able to capitalize on this, it might
have been a different game in the first half.
2. First-half turnovers. There were a number of odd turnovers: a couple
of 3-second calls, several whistles for players lifting their pivot foot
and a couple of offensive fouls. Clemson proved to be far worse in this
category, especially late in the half, but this hurt Duke for a couple of
different four-minute stretches.
1. Pressure. Without a strong point guard who can score, the Tigers were
helpless against Duke's traps. Duke wisely did not bother to try a full
court press, especially since Clemson was trying to leak out players the
whole game (and failed; the Tigers had 0 fast break points). Instead,
Duke would spring a trap once Clemson went into a halfcourt set, forcing
the point to either the sidelines or the midcourt line. This unnerved the
primary ballhandlers to the tune of 11 turnovers, plus 3 more forced
thanks to defense (2 shotclock violations and 1 inbounding violation).
Meanwhile, Beard and Harding applied their usual on-ball pressure and got
some nice results out of it.
2. Ball movement. The Devils had 38 field goals and 30 assists, and 6
different players had at least 3 assists. The point guard duo of Harding
& Krapohl combined for 11 assists and 1 turnover. Duke's posts combined
for 9 assists, and it wasn't just relocation passes either--Hunter looked
to work the ball in from the wing, and Bass had a perfect dish to a
3. Chemistry. Continuity has been one of Duke's biggest problems this
year. Newer players have struggled to fit in with older ones as everyone
tries to learn their teammates' tendencies. Injuries have hampered
critical practice time and development sessions. Right now, the team
finally seems to be clicking, and just at the right time.
** Bass: Mistie didn't play a lot of minutes due somewhat to early foul
trouble, but mostly due to Coach G trying to get more minutes for the
younger posts. When she was in there, she made the most of her time. The
most impressive thing about her game was her 7 rebounds in just sixteen
minutes. She dominated the Clemson front line with her strength and
positioning. Her best play was a perfect read and deceptive handoff to
Beard for an easy score.
** Tillis: A good game for Iciss, who missed a few shots but took good
ones and kept plugging away. Her defense was stellar as she helped shut
down Khaili Sanders, picking up 4 blocks. Iciss missed some chippies but
just went back and worked harder on the defensive end. She did make the
finish on Beard's fancy behind-the-back pass on the break, and a good
thing too--Alana might never have forgiven her if she missed that one!
Tillis had several nice assists, mostly of the inside-out variety (to
Harding and Krapohl for threes) and on the break (to Currie on a bomb
after she blocked a shot).
** Currie: Another excellent display of hustle from Monique, who seems to
be able to sense when the team needs her to take over and what they need
from her. In the first half, it was scoring, and so she scored 7 of
Duke's first 13 points, starting with a spectacular drive. In the second
half, it was rebounding and playmaking. Mo had 4 offensive rebounds in
the half and dished out assists to Beard, Krapohl and Tillis--one for each
senior. When she wasn't rebounding or passing, she was attacking the
basket and getting to the foul line. Monique is creeping up the Duke
scoring list and will likely move into the top 25 very shortly (ahead of
** Beard: An unreal performance for the best player in the country. In
the first half, Alana was almost entirely disinterested in scoring and
still somehow wound up with 10 points. Most of them were generated by her
defense, as she concentrated on making sure Stokes never got started. 5
rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks (including a block and rebound) and a charge
taken show how serious she was about this. In the second half, she
indulged herself a bit by actually shooting a few jumpers. In terms of
offensive intensity, she was at Beard Level 4 for most of the game but
then went up to Beard Level 10 for about three or four minutes in the
second half. That's UConn/Tennessee end-of-game execution in that
situation. Beard's three point percentage has quietly risen to 37% as
she's hit a career-best 30 on the season already. That's more than half
of the total she accumulated during her first three seasons at Duke. Her
next basket will break Johnny Dawkins' school record of 2556 points, but
she's also closing in on some other numbers. She's 41 rebounds away from
800, 10 steals away from 400, 11 blocks away from 150, 28 assists away
from 500 and 11 threes away from 100. Alana is also 31 free throws away
from breaking the Duke (and ACC records) of 576.
** Krapohl: Vicki got the starting nod and actually struggled a bit from
the field. She was hesitant at first to shoot (despite the urging of the
crowd) and missed her first few shots. But she sank 2 treys in the last
five minutes of the first half, and that helped turn the game into a
laugher. Krapohl also nicely set up Tillis for a three with a rare drive
into the lane and Harding with a pass to the baseline. Vicki played solid
defense throughout the game (though why Stokes didn't try to shoot over
her is beyond me) and provided her usual high level of energy. While this
wasn't the brilliant shooting display we saw against Georgia Tech and UNC,
it was nice to see her hunt her shot and keep firing away. All three
seniors took about the same number of shots, as it turned out.
** Foley: A solid game for the newly-coiffed Jess (she cut her hair and
added some twisties on top), who moved the ball extremely well. Though
she missed both of her first half shots, Jess did have assists to Beard
and Krapohl. In the second half, she nailed a couple of treys (including
the one that put Duke at the century mark) and scored inside, while
setting up Howe outside and Hunter inside.
** Hunter: After a few games where she didn't look entirely comfortable
in the offense, Brit suddenly snapped into place with excellent
decision-making and generally being in the right place at the right time.
Though she's still wearing a knee brace, she's much more mobile than she's
been in recent games, and that meant doing things like finishing on a cut
and coming over from the weak side to block a shot. Brittany also showed
off a nice passing touch, setting up Morgan for a three, Foley inside and
Bass from the high post. Hunter also was able to brush off an early miss
rather quickly, and instead went hard to the basket. This was also an
excellent rebounding performance for Brit after some mediocre showings. I
think we're getting closer and closer to seeing what a fully healthy
Hunter can do on a given night, and I think that getting extended minutes
tonight helped her relax a bit. While Duke won't see her at 100% this
year, she can still be a tremendous weapon for the Blue Devils.
** Harding: Lindsey stepped aside for Vicki and came off the bench for
the first time in over a year. She wasted little time in demonstrating
why she's such an effective starter. Not only is she now knocking down
jump shots that she formerly would have passed up, those shots are
momentum-swingers. The three she hit was the killer in a Duke run that
broke the team out of a malaise. A baseline jumper that Harding sank was
a crucial component of another Duke run. Harding had 4 points and an
assist inside to Hunter; Lindsey is becoming more and more adept at
feeding the post and getting a good entry angle. Of course, the last shot
of the half that she hit was the biggest, zipping up the court ala UConn
and this time taking the final shot. Harding is rapidly moving into
All-ACC consideration, and despite modest numbers, fully deserves to be
honored as one of the key cogs in Duke's engine.
** Bales: Ali seemed very tentative in this game. There were several
times she had an open jumper but instead held on to the ball for too long
as Clemson was determined to guard everyone else. Her reticence cost her
when Stokes knocked the ball out of her hands while she was standing at
the top of the key. Alison also had some difficulty with foul trouble,
allowing her foes to drive too far on her. Bales otherwise played pretty
good defense, forcing a held ball on one play. She's still a frosh and
will have up and down games, but her general progress is still quite
** Howe: After looking tentative in her last appearance, Caitlin
confidently pulled the trigger a couple of times and nailed one of them.
Howe also set up Bass and Hunter inside for scores.
** Morgan: Dana let a three fly and she buried it. Afterwards, you could
see how happy her teammates were for her, as the normally reserved Currie
was all smiles as she congratulated her when the game ended.
** Marsh: Kalita got a rebound, and despite chants of "Kalita must
score!", Duke wasn't able to set her up. Still, she got a chance to be on
the court for senior day, and her speech afterwards moved many.
Cameron Craziness: Despite a bit of snow on the ground, there was a great
crowd that was really into the game. Special kudos to the undergrads who
brought the dry-erase board with them to keep a running countdown of how
many points Alana needed to break Johnny D's record. The rest of the
crowd counted down along with them. A "Hey Vicki you're so fine..." cheer
broke out when she hit her first three.
Each of the seniors spoke after the game. Alana's message was short and
sweet, thanking her teammates, coaches & parents for everything and
expressing delight in how Duke's fanbase has grown. Vicki talked about
how great it felt to play in Cameron for these fans (who serenaded her
with another round of "Oh Vicki") and how their real goal was a banner.
She also thanked all the members of her family who were there, including
her Aunt Vicki, her namesake. Iciss thanked her mom, whom she termed her
"rock", and reflected back on when she and Alana made their recruiting
visit. She poked fun at Georgia Schweitzer ("aren't you 30 now?"--to
which she got a rimshot from the DUMB drummer) and thanked her for being
patient when she was a freshman. Lastly, Kalita gave an emotional speech
wherein she thanked Coach G for the opportunity to dress out this year,
and that her dream as a young child was to be at Duke, and that her dreams
came true. All of the players lingered long after the game, signing
autographs, getting pictures taken with fans and giving out many hugs.