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Duke Whips Wake in ACC Quarters

Duke 77, Wake Forest 59. March 6, 2004. Greensboro Coliseum.

After a shaky start, Duke cruised to a solid win over a Wake club that
always seems to give the Devils fits in the ACC Tournament. In 2001,
senior Olivia Dardy scored 30 points as Wake took Duke to overtime before
senior Georgia Schweitzer took over. Last year, senior Tiffani Listenbee
led a sterling defensive effort and the Deacs had a chance to tie the game
and send it into overtime, but couldn't quite pull it off. This year, it
was senior Tonia Brown who had a "senior moment", scoring 23 points and
grabbing 12 rebounds. Wake led for the first ten minutes of the game and
held leads of 12-4 and 15-8 before Duke rallied behind their defense and
post play. Though Alana Beard had a great defensive game, she only
managed 9 points on 4-12 shooting. This proved to be a blessing in
disguise, as the frontline of Iciss Tillis, Mistie Bass and Brittany
Hunter stepped up to combine for 48 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists and 7
steals. The Devils forcing 26 turnovers and dominating the paint helped
to offset Wake Forest's 11 three pointers. Wake lived by the three and
wound up dying by the three, because they had no balance in their offense
and started to misfire in the second half.

Wake scored 5 quick points to start the game, but a Beard jumper and a
transition basket by Tillis after a Harding steal brought Duke within 1.
Some aggressive defense by the Deacs and a three by T.Brown gave Wake that
early 12-4 lead. Duke immediately went to its bench, bringing in Vicki
Krapohl, Jessica Foley and Brittany Hunter. The Devils started to hit the
boards a lot harder and pulled to within 12-8 after Hunter hit a jumper.
Wake hit their second three of the day to boost their lead and put Duke
in a surprising hole. Mo Currie had a rough start with an early miss and
offensive foul, but she came up big by scoring on a drive. Hunter stole
the ball and triggered a Beard-to-Tillis fast break. After forcing a shot
clock violation, Harding then bombed away to Tillis for another fast break
score. Lindsey then came up with another steal and this time found Bass
in transition to give Duke their first lead at 16-15.

Cotelia Bond-Young missed back-to-back threes with Beard in her face,
and the Devils responded with Tillis finding Bass inside for a post-up.
Wake missed another three and Harding fed Beard for a drive and three
point play. When Beard stole the ball (a gutsy move, because she already
had picked up 2 fouls) and ran it back for a score, Duke capped off a 15-0
run with over seven minutes to go in the half. The Deacs would only hit 4
more field goals in the half, but they'd all be threes. This kept them in
the game, as Duke could only keep them at arm's length.

Wake cut the lead to 23-18, but Tillis countered with a three and then a
post-up on a Currie feed to give Duke its biggest lead. After another
Wake three, Duke scored 5 in a row as Beard hit a 17' jumper. Harding hit
2 freebies moments after turning her ankle; luckily, it wasn't a serious
injury. Duke got the ball inside a couple of times, with Tillis feeding
hunter and Iciss getting fouled going to the hoop. Duke lost Wake's
Meredith Bell and she got free for a three with under 40 seconds left in
the half, and the Devils weren't able to get a good shot off after that.
Still, Duke turned a 7 point deficit into a 37-27 halftime lead. Duke
turned the ball over a few times in the early going and had 8 for the
half, but forced Wake into 16 miscues. Tillis had 13 points and Beard 9,
while Lindsey Harding racked up several steals. Wake was in the game
because they shot 7-16 from the three point line and matched Duke in
rebounding at 18 boards apiece.

The most amazing thing about the second half is that Duke ran away with
it without Beard scoring a single point. It was Tillis, Hunter, Bass &
Currie who did the damage for Duke, quickly building up a big lead and
then pounding away inside to make sure that the Deacs couldn't come back.
Duke started the half with a steal, and then got 2 offensive rebounds
before Currie finally scored. After a Wake basket, Harding got a steal
and zoomed down the court for a layup. Wake missed a three and Beard
drove, dishing to Tillis for a short jumper. Wake abandoned the longball
approach and instead went to penetration, and managed to keep pace with
the Devils. A Tillis three on a pass from Currie gave Duke a 15 point
lead, but Wake countered with five straight points to make it 48-38 with
fifteen minutes to go.

Duke went exclusively to pounding the ball inside, and the result was a
series of free throws by Tillis and Hunter. Brittany missed 2, but Tillis
stole the ball and fed it to Hunter for a layup, giving Duke a 53-41 lead.
That play really hurt Wake, especially since they followed that up with a
three. Instead of being within 7, they were still in a three possession
game. Harding, Beard and Tillis then took over for Duke. Beard blocked a
shot and picked up 2 rebounds, while Harding dished twice to Tillis for
scores. The first was a drive and kickout to Iciss for a jumper, and the
second a pass inside and postup. Wake pulled within 57-46 with eleven
minutes left, but Duke embarked on a 13-0 run that put the game away.
Wake missed 5 shots and turned the ball over 6 times during the run.

It was pretty methodical, as Duke simply attacked the basket again and
again. Hunter scored 5 points on free throws and a stickback, Currie
struck twice on cuts, Krapohl stole the ball and passed to Harding, and
Tillis had a couple of freebies. With five minutes remaining, Duke led
70-46. When most of the regulars left the game, it was 74-49, thanks to a
Krapohl three. Wake tacked on a few late points, but it was all window
dressing by then. Duke was much more focused in this half at both ends of
the floor. They really went after Wake's shooters, holding them to 4-18
from three. Duke won the rebounding battle 23-20 and only turned the ball
over 6 times. The Devils didn't shoot that well from outside (only 3-11
from three plus several missed mid-range jumpers), but went to their
strengths inside and overwhelmed Wake. One could sense fatigue becoming a
factor as the game wore on, since Wake had to use up a lot of energy in
defeating Georgia Tech a day earlier. While Duke did not play up to the
level of energy and execution they had displayed against Clemson & NC
State, they managed to muck their way through another first round game in
the ACC tourney and get some crucial minutes of rest for their big guns.

** Negatives:

1. Blocking out. Despite being a small team, Ferrell had 5 offensive
rebounds and T.Brown 3. Wake outscored Duke 15-10 in second chance
points. Duke going zone meant that they were going to have some trouble
rebounding but it shouldn't have meant guards having that much success.

2. Fighting through screens. Wake's best shooter is Bond-Young, and Beard
made sure that she didn't get any open looks. But the Devils did a bad
job of making sure that T.Brown didn't get free off of screens, and also
let Strunk get too many good looks at the basket. Duke simply wasn't
disciplined enough to quickly switch.

3. Shot selection. Duke missed 8 jumpers in the first five minutes of the
game; not surprisingly, they got into a hole. When Duke started to attack
off the dribble and got some transition points, they got a lot more
patient in their halfcourt sets and looked to go insidea lot more.

** Positives:

1. Post play. This was the big difference for Duke. After starting the
game taking too many jumpers, Duke went to work pounding the ball inside.
Playing against a team that mostly used 4 or even 5 guards, Duke was able
to get plenty of mismatches inside. Taking advantage of what the opponent
was willing to give up was a key to Duke's victory.

2. Defensive pressure. Duke had 16 steals and forced 10 more turnovers
besides that. Taking away so many possessions from the Deacs fueled
Duke's big run and produced 29 points for the Devils.

3. Transition. Duke scored 10 points on fast breaks, often using long
rebounds to spark their running game. Three straight transition baskets
energized Duke in the first half, giving them the lead that they'd never


** Bass: A solid game for Mistie, despite some serious trouble (4-10)
from the foul line. This was one of her best defensive games, as she
switched from guarding out on the perimeter to jumping lanes for steals,
and then going inside for a block. Bass worked hard on the boards and
made herself a target. She also had a nifty pass to Currie for a score as
she set a pick.

** Tillis: Iciss was a star today, pure and simple. She did it all:
scoring in transition, feeding the post, hitting the three, posting up,
playing great defense (both in the post and at the top of Duke's zone) and
even getting to the foul line (6-7). Iciss really loves to run and
scoring 6 early points in transition seemed to boost her overall
confidence. She hit a three, posted up for a turnaround jumper, dished
inside to Hunter and Bass and then sank a couple of free throws in the
first half alone, and didn't have any turnovers. Tillis was even better
in the second half, hitting 4-5 from the field (3 jumpers and a post-up)
and 4-5 from the line, with assists to Currie and a big assist to Hunter
after a steal. Wake really had trouble dealing with her long wingspan
when she was at the top of Duke's zone, and didn't have anyone big or
quick enough to deal with her when she was at the top of her game.

** Currie: A quietly efficient game for Monique, who did most of her
damage in the second half. Mo often prefers to allow Beard & Tillis take
most of the shots, though she'll often try to get some early licks in.
She missed her first shot and then charged on the second, which made her a
bit hesitant on offense after that. When the game gets rough, Mo gets
motivated, scoring on a tough drive when Duke went down 15-8. She was
much more efficient in the second half, hitting a stickback and scoring on
a couple of cuts. Not a star turn by any means, but she helped her team
out and did little to hurt it.

** Beard: The funny thing about this "off game" for Alana is that she
still had 8 rebounds and 2 steals to go along with 9 points. If Beard had
never become an offensive star at Duke, she still would have been a huge
contributor in the Rochelle Parent mold. Bond-Young was the hero of the
Georgia Tech game, and Beard once again blanketed her. Offensively, Alana
still hit a couple of long jumpers and had a three point play, and her
defense keyed Duke's big second half runs. Duke didn't have to rely on
her and as a result played better as a team.

** Harding: Another fine floor game and defensive performance from
Lindsey, who gave fans a brief scare when she turned her ankle. The
speedster triggered a number of fast breaks thanks to her quick hands,
blowing by Wake a few times. She also ran the halfcourt well, making sure
to get the ball inside early and often. Lindsey wasn't hitting from the
perimeter, though she did take a few shots to keep the defenses honest.

** Krapohl: Not a huge impact game for Vicki, who did have a few nice
plays nonetheless. She found Hunter for a basket early in the game, came
up with a couple of steals in the second half and nailed a three.

** Foley: Jess' line won't impress anyone (2 points, 0-2 shooting, 3
rebounds, 2 turnovers), but those who watched the game will note that she
brought a lot of energy to the team when she entered the game. Her 3
offensive rebounds came at a point when Duke wasn't getting any second
chance opportunities. Foley's 2 free throws came after a 7-0 Wake run
that put Duke in a 12-4 hole. It was great to see her play the role of
energizer rather than just spot up for threes.

** Hunter: Brit really put a hurting on Wake's thin front line, pounding
them for easy scores and free throw attempts. The key word for her
performance was "aggressive". She attacked the basket all game long,
sometimes rather wildly but always forcing Wake to think quickly. Brit
went after every loose ball, forcing 2 held balls. She played the passing
lanes well, getting 3 steals. Hitting that early jumper had to make
everyone else in the tournament nervous, because the one thing she's
lacking is a consistent outside game. Brit looked a little jumpy on the
foul line and missed a number of shots, but helped her team by getting
them into the bonus. Brit is clearly a rhythm player; she likes to get
the ball often when she's having success and sometimes gets impatient when
she's struggling, putting up the occasional bad shot. She just needs to
trust her teammates to get her the ball and make sure she's in scoring
position when she does get it. Defensively, she continues to improve and
is moving her feet well.

** Bales: Ali started timidly but her boldness grew as the game went on,
blocking a couple of shots, grabbing some boards and getting to the foul
line. She does have the maddening tendency to bring the ball down at
times, giving defenders a chance to slap away at it. This led to her 3
turnovers. On the other hand, when she's aggressive and gets good
position, she's difficult to stop. At the very least, she was able to
give the post players some extra rest.

** Howe: Cait came on towards the end and fed Bass for a score.