Duke 103, Northwestern State 51. March 21, 2004. Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke played the Lady Demons of Northwestern State earlier in the year in
a game honoring Alana Beard near her hometown. The Blue Devils won by
about 50 points. The two teams met again in the first round of the NCAA
tournament. NSU had greatly improved since their first meeting, with
point guard La'Terrica "Cooda" Dobin returning from a broken hand and
winning the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles.
Unfortunately for the Lady Demons, Duke has gotten better as well, and the
result was another 50 point pasting. Dobin led the country in assists 3
straight years and had 6 against Duke, but she also coughed the ball up 7
times against a ferocious trapping defense. Alana Beard's former AAU
teammate Diamond Cosby managed to score 15 first half points, but Beard
shadowed her in the second half and held her to just 2 points. The
overmatched and outsized NSU frontcourt was dominated by Duke's post
players; they were held scoreless in the first half and the final tally
was 43-13 in terms of points and 27-8 in terms of rebounds. All of this
happened with Duke missing some easy shots, free throws and open threes.
The offense may have been rusty, but the defense was ready to roll. When
NSU tried to attack Duke's halfcourt defense after it got set, they had no
chance. Basically, Duke got everything they wanted in this game: a chance
to play after a long respite, lots of minutes for everyone but not too
many for the regulars, and a game that was over very quickly. While Duke
has a long way to go in the tournament, seeing them get off on the right
foot was important, especially since the Devils struggled with Georgia
State in the first round of last year's tournament.
Duke broke out to a 13-0 lead despite missing 5 shots and a free throw.
Of course, NWS missed 9 shots and turned it over 5 times during the same
stretch, as they were clearly intimidated by Duke's size and defense, not
to mention their surroundings. Duke's first 2 scores came on steals, as
Mo Currie hit Beard on one fast break and Lindsey Harding found Currie in
transition on another. Duke's long-range shots weren't falling, but they
found that going inside made things all better as Beard dished to Mistie
Bass on a post-up and Currie drove in for a reverse layup. Duke continued
to jump passing lanes and trap the talented but diminutive Dobin, who
panicked a few times and threw the ball away. Harding hit Duke's first
jumper with a 17' shot and followed it up with a free throw.
NSU buckled down and started to make some shots, as Cosby started to
fire away when she got open. She scored 6 straight points as Beard and
Tillis misfired a few times. Currie broke that string by unhesitatingly
canning a 15' baseline jumper, but Cosby brought NSU to wihtin 17-11 with
about twelve minutes to go in the half. Duke got serious and again looked
to pound it inside, and the result was an 11-0 run. This was a
grind-it-out sequence as Duke attacked the offensive boards. Tillis
grabbed her own miss and was fouled going up, hitting both. Alison Bales
boarded a missed Bass free throw and tapped it back in. Bales later
passed to Bass in a high-low set, while Currie dished to Jess Foley for a
three. NSU missed 6 shots during this sequence, 2 of them blocks by
Currie and Bales.
After a Cosby three, Duke ripped off a 10-1 run that showed off their
perimeter marksmanship. Vicki Krapohl sank 2 threes, Tillis hit a couple
of free throws, and Ali Bales nailed a 17' jumper from the top of the key.
That was an interesting shot because Bales did not hesitate to take it; in
fact, she looked very comfortable on offense throughout the game. That
put Duke up 38-15 with about four minutes to go in the half, but the
Devils weren't done. Duke went through a 10-4 run that featured Tillis
finishing off a lob and scoring in transition, while Mistie Bass hit a 17'
jumper and also scored on a fast break. The best play was Beard grabbing
an offensive rebound and finding Foley for a little 10' jumper. Cosby hit
a late three but even that momentum was stopped by a Foley trey, as Duke
led 51-23 at the half. NSU had 13 turnovers and shot an awful 28% in the
half, and the only reason the margin wasn't larger was because Duke was
just 4-15 from three and 9-16 from the foul line.
Duke started the second half on an 11-6 run as Tillis scored in
transition, and both Iciss & Alana got threes to drop. After a three
point play from NSU's Katrina Swanigan, the Devils went on an 11-2 run
that pretty much removed any doubt from the game. It started with some
free throws, and then Tillis had a stickback and dished to Currie for a
jumper. The run was capped off with a beautiful player where Harding
grabbed a rebound and dished to Beard; Alana drove and kicked it back to
Krapohl for a three. The Devils were up 73-34 at that point. Alana only
played 10 minutes in the second half and was mostly interested in passing,
later hitting Bales in the post for a score. Down the stretch, Foley
loaded up for a couple of more threes, Bass had some low-post scores, and
Bales scored on a three point play. Duke stopped pressing very early in
the second half as most of NSU's players appeared to quit in the last few
minutes, just wanting to get the game over with. The Devils were running
the shot clock down as much as possible, but everyone respected the game,
taking good shots and solid defense. The stat of the game may have been
this: if Duke hadn't scored a single point in the second half,
Northwestern State would only have managed to tie the game. Not playing
in this game were Brittany Hunter, who had her knee drained again and
whose status is uncertain for the Marquette game (though don't be
surprised if she plays on Tuesday); and Caitlin Howe, who tweaked her knee
a bit and is being held out as a precaution.
It should be noted that Coach Goestenkors won her 300th career game in
her 12th season. Considering that Gail has barely cracked 40, this is all
the more remarkable, as she has established an impressive tradition from
the ground up. Gail has won with teams that didn't have a lot of talent
in the early years, managed to get to the national title game with a
moderately talented group, and has been a Final Four regular with a very
talented team. She's still a young coach and has accomplished so much;
hopefully this will be the year that her ultimate goal--a national
title--will be realized. Beating a very tough and game-tested Marquette
team will be the next step.
1. Free throw shooting. Everyone seemed to be rushing their shots a bit,
which is unusual for a team that shoots so well from the line. Could be a
bit of rust there. This didn't wind up hurting Duke that much because of
their offensive rebounding.
2. Finishing. Harding, Beard, Tillis and Currie missed a bunch of easy
layups, several in transition. Down the road, these are shots that Duke
can't afford to miss.
1. Post defense. Duke's starting frontcourt outrebounded NSU 55-30,
blocked 9 shots and held their starting frontcourt to 5-18 shooting.
Throw in Bales' impressive numbers and NSU had no answer for Duke.
2. Unselfishness. 30 assists for 37 field goals is remarkable. Three of
the other field goals were stickbacks, and another was a fullcourt layup
by Harding. Six different players had at least 3 assists; the guards were
looking to feed the posts, and the posts were looking to pass back out to
the guards. Every scholarship player had at least 1 assist.
3. Rebounding. In addition to the +25 margin overall, the Devils also had
19 offensive rebounds and held NSU to 10 o-boards despite their missing 43
shots. Seven Duke players had at least 5 rebounds, which is an
** Bass: A typically solid night for Mistie, who displayed nice patience
in waiting for the ball and took advantage of her opportunities when she
got them. It was also nice to see her nail a long jumper from the foul
line, a shot that has become a signature for her. Bass also played
excellent defense, blocking 2 shots and grabbing a bunch of rebounds, as
she and Tillis utterly shot down NSU's post players.
** Tillis: Her slump long over, Iciss has moved forward and built on her
strong ACC tournament showing with a fine performance in this game. 17
points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists in 27 minutes were a nice display of
what she brings to a game. She dominated on the boards to start the game
and it was her mid-half scoring that really got Duke going, with 10 points
in about ten minutes. A three, a stickback and a transition basket early
in the second half helped keep the rout going.
** Currie: All year long, Mo has waited for the NCAA's to really step
forward, and the time has now come. Coach G told her that it's time to
stop deferring to the seniors and take more shots. Significantly, she
needs to shoot when she first gets a good open shot, instead of hesitating
and driving for a more difficult one, or passing the ball away. Mo was
0-3 from three in this game but it's important that she took those open
looks from three, because Duke's opponents will give her that shot (one of
those attempts bounced up and off the shot clock before dropping in, but
the officials disallowed it because it touched the shot clock). At the
same time, Mo attacked the basket, scoring in transition, on a reverse,
and on a jumper. Her biggest shot was a quick baseline jumper that ended
an early 6-0 run from NSU. Teams will always look to shadow and even
double-team Beard & Tillis, so she must be ready to step forward and take
the shots when they're there and use that jumper. Mo sometimes has a
tendency to drive too much and pick up offensive fouls, so keeping her
opponents off-balance by using the jumper to set up her drive seems to be
the right way to go. Coach G also noted that she wants Mo to attack the
boards, and her 8 caroms in this game proved that she's an apt pupil.
Throw in 3 assists, 3 steals and just 1 turnover, and you have exactly the
kind of game that Duke will need in every NCAA tournament game.
** Beard: At the offensive end, this was not Alana's best game. She
missed 3 threes and couldn't quite finish a lob thrown to her. Alana also
missed 3 foul shots and a stickback. None of that mattered, because the
team didn't need her to score and she still affected the game profoundly
at both ends. In fact, Beard almost had a triple double, with 8 points, 8
rebounds and 9 assists. Alana really looked to feed the post, hitting
Bass, Tillis and Bales for several baskets. She also made several smart
passes, like the dish to Foley for a short jumper and the kickback to
Krapohl for three. Beard also wreaked havoc on defense, getting several
early steals and making Dobin's life unpleasant. Alana achieved a
significant career milestone in this game, getting her 500th assist. That
makes over 2600 points, over 750 rebounds, 500 assists, almost 150 blocks
(142), nearly 400 steals (397) and 100 threes (93). She's also just 10
free throws away from tying Chris Moreland's ACC record of 576.
** Harding: Despite spraining her ankle in practice, the near-superhuman
Lindsey showed no ill effects whatsoever in this game. In fact, thanks to
the long layoff, her fractured foot looked a lot better as she was getting
a lot more lift on her jumper. She actually looked to take the open
three, and though she missed 3 threes, she did hit a couple of long
jumpers in addition to scoring on one of her patented "one-woman fast
breaks". Lindsey is Duke's most underrated player in my opinion because
she's not a big-time scorer, but her strong rebounding and superior
playmaking has been a big part of Duke's success at both ends this year.
Duke leads the nation in assists and Lindsey is a big reason why; her 7
assists and 2 turnovers in this game are a nice testament to that. She
had assists to Currie, Tillis, Bass, Beard and Foley, several of them in
transition as Duke used their outstanding team speed against a team that
wasn't exactly slow. One day soon, Lindsey will get a triple-double.
** Foley: Jess played a lot of minutes and her teammates set her up early
and often. But it was just three point bombs (though she did hit 4 of 9);
she scored on a cut, a stickback, and a short jumper as well. Foley hit
the boards as well, getting 5, and played solid defense. All-in-all, it
was a solid, versatile game for a player that could give her team a big
boost if she can provide some instant offense off the bench. Her shooting
has been a bit erratic of late but if she continues to work hard at both
ends, she can be a difference-maker.
** Krapohl: A solid game from Vicki, who will need to continue to fire
away from three in order to take some pressure off Beard & Tillis. She
actively hunted her shot in the first half and hit 2 big threes that
pushed Duke's lead up to and then over 20. Vicki even made a rare trip to
the foul line, hitting 2 of 3 after being fouled from behind the arc.
Krapohl's 3 assists give her 287 for her career; all three members of
Duke's senior class have a chance to go over 300 for their careers.
** Bales: Ali looked smooth and confident in a way I haven't seen from
her in quite some time. It's been an up-and-down freshman year, but I've
said all along that if she comes into a game with the right attitude, she
can be a major difference-maker. She's especially effective as the
backline player if Duke decides to go zone, thanks to her shotblocking
ability. Ali was very effective on the boards, getting good position and
keeping the ball high. She intimidated NSU's players (there was one point
where Dobin turned to pivot in the lane and got a faceful of "43"),
blocking 5 shots and causing several to reconsider attempts. She did pick
up a few fouls, but that's OK if she stays physical. Overall, Ali
fulfilled her role almost perfectly; if Brittany Hunter has to miss any
more games, her continued good play could become crucial.
** Marsh: Kalita got in with a bit over three minutes to go and as usual
was all business. Foley hit her in the corner and Kalita responded with a
three, a shot that made the entire stadium erupt with joy. Kalita will
now be able to say that she scored in the NCAA tournament; doing it in
Cameron had to make it all the sweeter.
** Morgan: Dana got a couple of minutes and got Duke's 100th point on a
busted play where she picked up a loose ball and drove in for the layup.
The bench once again erupted after that score and the crowd was equally
** Cameron Craziness: Lots of Duke fans showed up for the ODU-Marquette
game, which was quite an exciting contest. There were a few interesting
faces in the crowd today, including former Wake Forest coach Charlene
Curtis and former Duke greats Tye Hall & Rochelle Parent. The student
with the dry-erase board at one point wrote "Mo's dad is cool"; Mike
Currie responded by gleefully pointing to them from across the stadium.
There were about 6,500 fans for this game, and very few of them were NSU
fans. Hopefully Cameron will be packed for the senior class' last home
game on Tuesday.