Duke 70, Maryland 63. March 7, 2004. Greensboro Coliseum.
In the end, it was Duke's experience that proved to be the big
difference against a talented and very game Maryland team. The young
Terps were picked to finish 8th in the ACC but exceeded all expectations
thanks to improved play by their veterans and the emergence of some
remarkable frosh. One could see the young Terps learn from each loss to
Duke this season. They were blown out by 30 in Cameron, and there they
learned that they had to value the ball and get some balance on offense.
In College Park, they were able to get some of that balance but fell
behind by too much early on. Though they were able to get within 7 points
on three different occasions, they weren't able to get over the hump
against the experienced Devils. In this game, on a neutral court, coach
Brenda Frese came up with an excellent game plan that forced Duke to do
what Maryland wanted for much of the game and that gave the Terps as much
as a 7 point lead. It wasn't until Duke started outhustling the Terps and
started dictating the game to them that things turned around for the
Maryland started the game in a triangle-and-two, with chasers following
around Alana Beard & Iciss Tillis. That forced that duo to become pull-up
jump shooters, and that simply didn't go well. Instead of attacking the
zone with dribble penetration and finding the proper entry angle for
Duke's posts, the Devils took too many jumpers. Defensively, the Terps
mixed it up well, getting three point plays with power moves inside and
setting great high screens to free up their three point shooters. Duke
had trouble turning the Terps over, which in turn meant that the easy
baskets they were getting against Wake dried up instantly. That fed
Duke's impatience; instead of patiently attacking in the halfcourt, Duke
looked frustrated that they weren't allowed to run and played one-on-one a
bit too much. When the shots didn't fall, that simply increased each
individual's sense that they had to make a great one-on-one play right
away; when they failed, that frustration often carried over to the
Things started off reasonably well for Duke, taking a 7-0 lead thanks to
8 misses and 3 turnovers by the Terps. Duke didn't take advantage of
Maryland's woes as well as they could have, missing 4 shots and turning
the ball over 3 times. Duke's scores came on a Mistie Bass post-up, a
Monique Currie drive, and a Vicki Krapohl three on a pass from Currie.
Maryland countered with a 7-2 run of their own, with Shay Doron scoring 5
points. Iciss Tillis stepped up with a stickback, a three and a dish to
Brittany Hunter on a high-low play. Duke wouldn't score on many more of
those post-ups in the first half, however. A Mo Currie runner in the lane
made it 16-9 Duke with ten minutes to go in the half. Duke had the lead,
but the offense looked out of synch. Maryland was getting some good looks
at the basket that simply didn't go down.
Duke put Doron at the foul line yet again, and her frosh star partner
Kalika France drove in for a three point play. Duke's lead suddenly
shrunk to 16-14, but the Devils would respond. Duke took a breath and
Beard patiently waited until Bass got open, and then fed her with a
perfect pass for a score. After a long Doron miss, Currie grabbed the
board and fired an outlet pass to Krapohl, who hit Tillis in stride for
the fast break layup. When Currie posted up and then scored on an
up-and-under, order was restored and Duke led 22-16.
Back came the Terps with a 6-1 run. Doron hit a jumper, France stole
the ball from Beard and converted, and then Delvona Oliver posted up for a
score. Duke moved Beard into the post and set her up on the left block,
where she immediately scored on a post-up. After a Maryland turnover,
Beard posted up again and hit a turnaround jumper down low. Duke got a
stop and looked to really take control, but Tillis missed a three. Doron
countered with a short jumper to cut the lead to 27-24. Hunter put up an
awkward shot, Tillis followed with an even worse attempt, and Beard then
turned the ball over before Doron got loose for a game-tying three. A
Currie turnover led to France getting a stickback to give Maryland their
first lead of the game at 29-27. After another Duke miss, Doron drove
right down the lane, but Currie went up for a clean block. Tillis got a
chance at a three at the buzzer, but it wouldn't drop. Duke didn't score
in the last 3:40 of the first half, taking several bad shots. Worse,
their own mistakes led directly to Maryland scores. The Terps were using
a sticky defense and selectively ran on the Devils to produce their slim
lead. Tillis was Duke's scoring leader with 7 points (along with 5
rebounds, but Beard only had 5 points. Down at the half, this would have
Alana hit a three to start off the half, and then Harding stole the ball
and threw it to Beard, who was fouled. Just like that, Duke had a 32-29
lead and Frese had to call a time-out. Whatever she said worked
dramatically, because the Terps ripped off a shocking 12-1 run. Oliver
first posted up and scored on a three point play. After a Currie miss,
the Terps got 2 offensive rebounds and Oliver this time spotted up for a
three. After another Currie miss, Chrissy Fisher stepped behind a screen
and nailed another three. Vicki Krapohl then made a series of big plays.
First she rebounded a bad France shot that would have made the lead 40-32.
Then she rebounded a Hunter miss and got it back to her, drawing a foul.
Hunter hit 1, but then Tillis made the huge error of crashing into Oliver
as she was attempting a three. She hit all three to give the Terps a
41-33 lead with sixteen minutes left.
Krapohl answered at the other end to cut it to 41-36, a huge momentum
basket that momentarily discouraged the young Terps. Fisher missed a shot
and Duke took advantage when Tillis dished to a cutting Beard for a score.
A Beard free throw made it 41-39 with under fourteen minutes to go. Doron
missed a three but the Terps got another offensive rebound and Beard
fouled Crystal Washington, who hit 2 freebies. Harding drove and used a
screen to free herself up from 15', and she buried the shot. Beard stole
the ball, but Krapohl missed a three. Beard got the o-board and passed to
Foley, who missed the potential game-tying layup. Washington immediately
came back and scored on a three point play. Harding missed a three and
Doron slipped behind a screen for a short jumper, making it 48-41 with
seven minutes to go. Duke had come close but couldn't quite break
through Maryland's lead.
It was crunch time, which meant it was time for Currie to step up.
Harding gave her the ball and Mo hit a driving leaner. After being called
for an offensive foul on Duke's next possession, she stuffed a driving
France, which helped set up Beard dishing to Tillis on a cut. The next
couple of minutes would be ugly for both teams, as Currie turned the ball
over when she wasn't paying attention to a pass coming her way and Beard
missed a jumper, while the Terps coughed up the ball a couple of times.
Finally, Beard stuck back a Tillis miss, blowing past Doron for the score.
Doron coolly responded by nailing a three to give the Terps a 51-47 lead
with seven minutes left. Beard went right and blew past Doron again to
cut the lead to 2. One got the sense that Duke had to take the lead soon
or else the Terps would never surrender it.
France took an ill-advised three and Beard corralled the board. Harding
passed to Krapohl on the right wing and then used a hard fake to her
right, where Beard was standing in the corner. That shook off Doron, and
Vicki simply drained the three to give Duke back the lead at 52-51.
France stuck back an Oliver miss to put the Terps back on top, but Duke
was suddenly firing on all cylinders. Beard fed Bass inside for a score
and then picked Doron's pocket, drawing a foul. That was a crucial
defensive series, because the 56-53 lead gave Duke just the tiniest bit of
breathing room. Sure enough, the two teams traded scores over the next
minute, with Bass scoring again inside and Tillis hitting 2 freebies.
With under four minutes to go, Duke's lead was a precarious 60-59.
Currie's focus became laser-like, as she drove in for a tough layup.
Oliver was fouled, but crucially missed the front end of the one-and-one.
Currie drove again, and was fouled going to the hoop. She didn't miss,
and Duke suddenly had a 64-59 lead. Doron was fouled and also missed the
front end, but the rebound slipped through Tillis' hands. Washington got
fouled and hit both. Tillis missed an open three, but Maryland turned it
over and Beard was fouled, hitting both. Duke got the ball back but Beard
was stripped by France and the Terps cut it to 66-63 with a minute left.
Duke ran the clock down and Currie once again came through, knifing
through the defense on a drive. Doron missed a shot and Beard then
blocked Washington's stickback attempt. Currie got the board, got fouled,
and nailed both to clinch the 70-63 win.
Duke played mediocre basketball for the first 33 minutes of the game,
and a strong Terp squad that is peaking took advantage. They were perhaps
one or two bad shots away from getting a double-digit lead, which could
have been difficult to overcome. In the last seven minutes of the game,
Duke played championship-level basketball at both ends of the floor,
hitting big shots and free throws while the Terps blew some chances to
stay close. They blinked and Duke didn't, and it pointed out the
difference between a club learning how to win and a club that knows how to
win. That said, the Terps in my view have done enough to earn an NCAA
tournament bid. They beat Clemson in their regular season finale, and
then crushed Florida State in their first round game in the tournament.
Their solid showing against Duke should also help. If they get in,
they'll probably be an 8 or 9 seed that will scare the hell out of a #1
seed in the second round.
As for Duke, they get their old friends from Chapel Hill in a final for
the fourth time in the past five years. UNC played pretty well against NC
State, pulling out a close game comfortably at the end. The Heels will be
way up against their arch-rivals, and the result should be another classic
1. Blocking out. Maryland had 15 offensive rebounds and had 13 second
chance points, compared to just 7 for Duke. Maryland did miss a lot of
shots, creating more opportunities, but given their overall lack of
quality size, Duke should have done a much better job.
2. Shot selection. Duke settled for the jumper instead of trying to find
a better shot. The posts settled for tough turnaround jumpers instead of
getting better position.
3. Post play. As strong as Duke's posts were against Wake Forest, they
didn't show the same level of patience, effort and smarts in this game.
Bass had some critical scores, but only managed a single rebound. Tillis
and Hunter rushed shots the whole night; Iciss at least had 8 rebounds
(including a crucial one down the stretch), but Brit also came up with
1. Halfcourt defense. Beard, Harding and especially Currie stepped up to
make some huge individual plays on defense. Currie had some unbelievable
blocks against bigger players. Tillis also settled down and forced the
Terps into tougher shots.
2. Crunch time play. Duke has a lot of experienced players who have been
in big games, and who know what it takes to win down the stretch. When
Duke took the lead, they patiently weathered Maryland going back and forth
with them for a few minutes, then seized a chance to take a significant
lead with some difficult shots.
3. Getting to the foul line. 10 of Duke's last 14 points came from the
foul line, as the Devils went hard to the hoop each time and made some
high-pressure freebies. After starting the game 5-10 from the line, the
Devils finished 15-20.
** Bass: A good scoring game for Mistie, who was ignored down low more
than once but kept her head in the game, hitting two big shots down the
stretch. She had trouble defending Oliver and Washington at times, which
really helped Maryland's offensive balance.
** Tillis: Iciss took and missed a number of bad shots, but had a big
offensive rebound late in the game and hit both free throws. She also had
trouble defending Washington and Oliver, getting caught for three point
plays. Her rebounding and first half scoring helped make up for it, along
with scrapping for a couple of held balls. Iciss passed Sue Harnett for
#2 on the all-time Duke rebounding list and now has 907 for her career.
She passed Georgia Schweitzer for #5 on the all-time scoring list against
** Currie: Mo made some mistakes in this game at both ends, but it's no
wonder why she lists "crunch time" as her favorite part of the game,
because she loves to make big plays down the stretch. She scored 8 of her
16 points in the last four minutes of the game, including a drive that put
the game away. There are times when Mo looks lackadaisical on the court,
committing stupid fouls, taking flat jumpers or throwing the ball away.
But when things get really heated, she goes all-out and isn't afraid to
take big shots. After being abused a couple of times in the post, she
stepped up to block 3 shots. After a couple of dumb turnovers, she
focused and took care of the all. Currie is just a difference-maker,
someone who can make big plays so that Beard doesn't have to be the one to
do it all the time.
** Beard: After a first half where she was way too passive, she came out
guns blazing in the second half. She hit a three, was 7-8 from the foul
line, and scored on a cut, a stickback and a drive. Once Maryland went
man-to-man, there was no one on that team who could contain her. She also
shut down France, who shot just 4-17 from the floor. Beard did get
stripped a few times by the tough young rookie, but shook it off teach
time to make a play.
** Harding: Lindsey once again had a solid floor game and hit a big shot
in the second half after struggling the whole game. She was one of Duke's
best rebounders with 6 and pushed the ball hard. Lindsey also forced
Anesia Smith into 5 turnovers.
** Krapohl: When the team needed her, Vicki made several game-turning
plays that swung momentum back to Duke. Her flying-out-bounds rebound
showed the team how hard they had to work to stay in the game. Her second
three of the game broke up a 9-1 run, but it was her third three that was
the biggest, giving Duke the lead back late in the game. The fake worked
so well because Beard had been tormenting the Terps off the dribble, and
they weren't about to let her drive again.
** Hunter: Brittany was aggressive, but simply rushed things too much.
She had an early basket on a high-low, but missed all 4 of her shots in
the second half and 3 of 4 free throws. Her only other big play was a
massive block and rebound. One could see Brit get visibly frustrated out
there, which I think led to her forcing some of her plays. She needs to
embrace "next play" in order to become the best player possible. She's a
perfectionist and sometimes feels like she lets others down by not being
perfect, which was very much like Alana Beard as a freshman.
** Foley: Jess blew a layup in a crucial situation, but did find Krapohl
for a three.