Duke 110, Arkansas State 56. November 26, 2005. Cameron Indoor Stadium.
What should have been a fairly competitive game quickly turned into a blowout.
For most of the second half, Duke's biggest challenge was staying focused enough
to run sets properly, along with trying not to run afoul of the officials. Duke
returned to its more uptempo starting lineup of Chante Black, Mistie Williams,
Monique Currie, Abby Waner and Lindsey Harding. The game featured the official
debut of Emily Waner (with her family in attendance) and even featured a
Waner-to-Waner connection. While Duke forced 20 turnovers, they didn't
actually employ a full court press that much, preferring to use its superior
height and standard halfcourt defense to shut down ASU. While the Indians had
moments where they looked like they were going to put up a fight, Duke dazzled
them with fast break after fast break. ASU was clearly stunned for portions of
the game, putting up bad shots and giving away the ball. Duke's depth wore them
down quickly, along with trying to defend what each player brought to the court.
The bottom line is that Duke shot 68% and ASU only 29%. Only 28 free throw
attempts prevented the final margin from being even worse. Duke was +32 on the
boards, giving up just 9 offensive rebounds. One nice thing about this team so
far is that while they've had multiple players in double figures each night,
it's usually a different set of players each time.
Duke was delighted to see that Arkansas State started the game in man-to-man
defense, because this meant that the Devils would get a great opportunity for
post feeds. Indeed, Duke took a 4-0 lead as Black fed the ball to Williams on
a high-low set, and A.Waner found Black inside. It was 8-4 when both Harding
and Black drove in for baskets. ASU was paying a lot of attention to Currie
while leaving Harding to do whatever she wanted, and Lindsey made them pay. Mo
did make her presence felt with a three and a stickback, and a Black foul shot
made it 14-4 four minutes into the game. After a three from ASU, the Devils
went on a 12-0 run led by Carrem Gay and Harding. Lindsey hit 2 jumpers while
Gay scored 6 points on an assortment of post moves. An Abby Waner steal and
runout made it 26-7 with twelve minutes left in the half.
ASU rallied with 5 straight points, but Duke slowly built up their lead.
Williams started to assert herself with back-to-back scores, while Laura Kurz
made herself known with a three. Williams had 4 points and an assist while
pushing the lead up to 40-17. After ASU scored again, the Devils went on a
game-ending 15-0 run. Once again, Harding was the star. She scored 9 points
on assorted jumpers and fast breaks. Duke broke down a bit down the stretch,
getting outscored 6-2 in the last minute of the half. Still, the Devils
carried a 57-25 lead into the lockerroom. While the Devils had 11 assists,
there was a lot more one-on-one action than usual, though this was partly
dictated by how ASU played defense.
The Indians hung tough early in the second half, playing Duke even in the
opening minutes. Coach G was unhappy with the sloppines of the starters in the
early going, and yanked all 5 in favor of Bales, Foley, Gay, Smith and Emily
Waner. Smith went on an assist tear, starting with passes inside to Gay and
Bales for scores. Gay finished 2 fast breaks to put Duke up 74-36. Harding
put Duke over the 40+ hump with a jumper and a finish on a pass from Currie.
ASU rallied again, going on a 10-5 run to "cut" the margin to 87-50. At this
point, the play was getting quite chippy. ASU players were all over Duke's
players, and Duke responded with some elbows that led to fouls. Chante Black
fouled out with ten minutes to go in the game after she put an elbow in the
chest of a player draped all over her. In the last seven minutes of the game,
Duke didn't get made--they got even, to the tune of a 23-6 run to end the game.
All eleven healthy players (Brittany Mitch is going to get hip surgery next
week and will be out 3-5 weeks) got between 15 and 22 minutes. In this span of
5 games in 10 days, this distribution of minutes has been essential in keeping
everyone fresh. This will set Duke up nicely to play a talented Auburn team
tomorrow, one that will match up well with Duke's size, speed and power. This
is a game where Duke's veterans will need to step up and make plays.
** Black: Chante was extremely aggressive in this game, sometimes too much so
(see: 5 fouls). Still, it was good to see her step up as an offensive target,
scoring 5 of Duke's first 14 points. She was also passing adeptly, finding
Williams and Bales from the high post. Black was also snuffing out shots,
called for a foul on one block that was clearly all-ball. Chante looked much
smoother from the foul line, taking her time and nailing 4 of 5 chances. Duke
benefits when Chante is hunting her shot and attacking the basket. Some of her
fouls were a result of being caught in the air instead of standing her ground,
which can be corrected.
** Williams: Mistie's eyes grew big when she saw that she wasn't going to be
zoned or double-teamed. She scored on the game's first possession and then
domianted the game for about five minutes later in the half. That include 2
post-ups, a stickback, an assist to Black and a basket off the dribble. Mistie,
Chante and Alison also threw some bad lobs into the post that were easily picked
off during Duke's scoring lull in the second half. The team must work hard to
keep the crisp timing on its passes, because otherwise they become too easy to
defend. Mistie had a strong defensive game, blocking a shot and getting her
hands dirty on the boards. Like most of Duke's players, this was an efficient
game where the player took advantage of many opportunities.
** Currie: Mo was pretty quiet in this game after she scored 5 quick points.
Currie attempted just 6 shots in total, which just showed that she went with
the flow of the game and didn't force things. She did have a nice jumper in
the second half and grabbed a couple of tough rebounds, but the team was
operating without having to depend on her much. Mo did become the 7th player
to score 1600 points at Duke, and is on the verge of moving ahead of Georgia
** A.Waner: The good news is that Abby seems to have fixed her free throw form,
nailing her first two attempts. The bad news is that Waner shot a couple of
airballs from three as her shot abandoned her there. The good news is that
Abby found many other ways of involving herself at both ends of the floor. She
found Black for a score in the early part of the game, and then hit Williams,
Kurz, E.Waner and Williams again for a hook. Apart from her passing, she also
had a steal and runout, a driving three point play, and a gorgeous up-and-under
where she made sure never to lift her pivot foot. Abby continues to have a nose
for the ball, racking up several steals. Despite her 2 bad misses, Waner stayed
disciplined and did well with "next play". If this had been preseason, she
would have beaten herself up over her mistakes quite a bit more, but she's
already maturing quite quickly.
** Harding: Lindsey was superb in this game, providing a nightmarish matchup
for ASU. They couldn't press her, because she simply blew by her opponents on
the way to the basket (she missed one of those attemtps, but ASU didn't try it
again). She called her own number repeatedly, peppering ASU with 4 short
jumpers and a three, in addition to scoring on 4 drives. While she created a
little less than usual, there were certainly others who were filling this role
on the team. It was good to see Lindsey so aggressively looking for her own
shot and lifting the offensive pressure from others.
** Smith: Like Foley, Nish is also having a lot of trouble with her jumper.
Rather than worry about, she's simply concentating on breaking off assist after
assist. She found Gay and Bales in the post, Gay in transition, Kurz for three,
Kurz in transition and Foley for a jumper. Nish really thrives in transition,
and playing fewer minutes has really spurred her creativity and urgency on the
floor. Having an off guard who can pass as well as anyone on the floor is a
real luxury, and the plethora of passers on this team is in large part fueling
the huge point totals that Duke is racking up this year.
** Bales: Ali wasn't looking to score much, but she was hugely intimidating on
the defensive end. In addition to blocking 5 shots, Ali also cleaned up with
11 rebounds. More than blocking shots, Ali's mere presence prevented ASU from
even trying some shots. Offensively, Ali missed some easy stickbacks and in
general just didn't seem very aggressive. That will need to change against
Auburn, with their huge one-two punch inside. Ali will go up against KeKe
Carrier, a player of the same height and size as Ali; in this matchup, skill
and determination will carry the day.
** Gay: Carrem continues to develop quickly, using her refined post moves and
quickness to punish ASU repeatedly. In addition to using the backboard ably
when applying english on her spinning layup attempts, but also demonstrates her
fine body control when using her up-and-under and dropsteps in the paint. Her
footspeed and ability to finish are both at a high level, as she finished twice
in transition. The biggest revelation was seeing her twice nail a 15' jumper,
and without hesitation. It was essentially a foul line jumper, but she still
nailed it under duress. Gay was everywhere on defense, blocking shots and
getting steals. Like Abby Waner, Gay has the knack of being quitely
spectacular. Auburn's bigs will certainly be a challenge for her.
** Foley: Jess continues to struggle with her shot, but certainly not the rest
of her game. She did score on a feed from A.Waner and by sinking a 15' shot on
an inbounds play (something Coach G has been using for years). Foley's also
been piling up assists, with dishes to Gay, E.Waner, Kurz and Williams. Jess
was also strong defensively, forcing 2 jump balls and picking up a couple of
steals. Foley made no real mistakes and provided her usual calming presence on
** Kurz: After a lackluster showing against Fairfield, Laura came to play in
this game. Kurz sank a three and hit some free throws in the first half, and
also had an assist to Williams after driving and drawing her defender. She
really went to work in the second half where she was acting as a power forward.
Foley found her inside for a score, and A.Waner set her up for a three point
play. Kurz finished up with a three, a fast break score and a stickback. She
didn't miss a single shot, rebounded ably and even played solid defense. Kurz'
versatility is what made her so dangerous on the court, and if she can keep this
up against stronger opponents, there will certainly be a place for her in the
** E.Waner: Emily was billed as a great shooter coming into the program, but
she struggled from the three point line during the preseason. I think that at
least some of this can be attributed to the growing stress fracture in her
foot. That prevented her from getting the lift she wanted when pushing off the
ground for her jumper. In this game, she rushed her early shots but seemed to
relax when she went to the foul line. Later, she had assists to Harding for a
three and in transition after a steal. In the second half, she sank two
threes, one on a pass from her sister and the other a pull-up where she was
wide open. Slowly but surely, she's integrating herself with the rest of the