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Duke Sets Records Crushing Ball State

Duke 110, Ball State 24. December 19, 2005. Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke started the game on a 23-0 run after seven minutes of play. It took Ball
State (a team with a 6-2 record coming into the contest) the rest of the game
to overcome that initial run. Of course, Duke didn't exactly stand still,
breaking school records for margin of victory and fewest points allowed in the
process. There was some concern that a two week break would have led to some
rust and laziness, but such was not the case. Duke jumped all over an
overmatched opponent and kept jumping on them, taking advantage of every
mismatch and error. The Devils used their superior size (no BSU player was
over 6-2 and their starting center was out), quickness and firepower to turn
this game into a rout very quickly.

Duke ran as much as they could and went inside when the game slowed down. The
team broke down Ball State's zone expertly, finding the players open in the
corner for threes. Duke was solid defensively, though BSU had plenty of shots
in the early going that just didn't go down. Alison Bales and company made
sure that BSU had very few second chances as well. Ali started the game
scoring on a drive 10 seconds in, and then found Monique Currie on a fast
break. Mo scored 9 points in four minutes, finishing another couple offast
breaks and sinking a three. Bales and Mistie Williams combined to score 10
points of their own as the starters rolled to a 19-0 start at the first
time-out. Coach G pretty much went to wholesale substitutions right away,
though her roster was somewhat limited. Carrem Gay was out with a shoulder
injury, while of course Keturah Jackson and Brittany Mitch continue to sit out
nursing injuries of their own. Still, Duke was able to use ten players and all
played between 18 and 21 minutes.

The reserves scored 4 straight points (stickbacks by Laura Kurz and Chante
Black) before BSU finally managed to scratch. That sparked a 21-3 run where
Kurz dominated with 7 points and an assist. Duke was up 44-5 with under five
minutes left in the half. Down the stretch, the Devils made it 13-4, as Jess
Foley hit Emily Waner twice for threes. The Devils didn't let up to start the
second half, starting on a 10-0 run to make the score an absurd 67-9. Ball
State's last points of the game came with under eight minutes left and brought
them to within 91-24, but Duke closed the game with a 19-0 run. The Devils
stopped pressuring the ball in the second half out of their conventional
defense. Instead, they worked on several varieties of zone defense, with many
of them leading to turnovers. In addition, in something out of
"Hoosiers", Coach G instituted a "5-pass rule": there had to be five
passes made before anyone shot the ball. It actually worked quite nicely
as Duke only had 7 second-half turnovers and shot 69% from the field.

The final numbers were absurd. Ball State shot 13% for the game and
nearly had more turnovers (21) than points. Their leading scorer, Julie
DeMuth, was 0-12 from the field and fouled out in 20 minutes of play.
Guard Tina Bolte was 2-11 from the floor and Krista Stewart was a
staggering 1-14. Alison Bales accidentally obliterated starting point
guard Kelsey Corbin on her way to the basket; she was trying to block her
shot and whacked her so hard that Corbin separated her shoulder on impact.
Her back-up, Kiley Jarrett, was generously listed at 5-4 and coughed the
ball up 10 times. This was pretty much a perfect storm of unfavorable
matchups, missed shots and nervousness meeting a Duke team determined to
show that they weren't rusty after a layoff.

Putting aside the numbers, Duke generally had a solid effort. Some of
the old problems were still there, including missing defensive rotations
and allowing open perimeter shots. Also, some of the players didn't
finish well. Though Alison Bales was perfect from both the floor and the
line, she actually could have had three point plays several times she was
fouled if she had only followed through a bit stronger. Abby Waner made
some bad decisions on the break, both in terms of passing and the way she
tried to finish. All in all, this group is starting to cohere and play
with more discipline overall. Colorado State will be a stiffer test than
Ball State on Thursday, but the ACC season is really what Duke is waiting
for right now.


** Bales: Defensively, Ali was utterly dominant. Only one Ball State
player was able to score on her the entire night, and that was with a
wide sweeping hook. Bales blocked 7 shots, altered others and just plain
frightened players into passing up still more. BSU's starting point
Kelsey Corbin drove right at her and regretted it after Bales blocked her
so hard that she separated her shoulder upon landing. Ali was visibly
shaken after Corbin lay on the ground for several minutes, and Coach G in
fact removed her from the game to let her calm down a bit. After it was
clear that the injury was not catastrophic, Ali relaxed, came back in and
continued to dominate. I already mentioned that she didn't finish as
strong as she needed to at some points, but I was heartened to see her put
the ball on the deck twice and score on drives. Bales was a monster on
the boards, using her size and power to scoop up every rebound. It was
also good to see Ali look to score. She seemed almost embarassed about
how easy it was for her to score inside, but one should take advantage of
mismatches until an opponent can stop them.

** Williams: Mistie did not finish as well as she should have on some
plays, leaving the ball short. She was also called for three seconds in
the lane (which she argued vociferously). Her best shot was a hook in the
lane that she finished smoothly. I did like her passing quite a bit,
using her size to shield off defenders while looking for cutters. It's a
part of her game that she's only developed recently, but it makes her much
more effective in the frontcourt. Especially since all of the other
starters are excellent passers; it definitely seems to have rubbed off on

** Currie: The Ball State players weren't even in the same area code of
talent or toughness as Currie. Mo was noticeably angry when one of them
leg-whipped her, causing her to have to leave the game for a few minutes.
But to paraphrase Gene Wilder, "Don't shoot her, that'll only make her
angry." At the start of the game, she scored that quick 9 points along
with 2 assists, then later had a smooth floater in traffic. In the second
half, she was attacking the boards, powering her way to the hoop, going
after steals and generally getting even instead of getting mad. The
result was 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 0 turnovers and only 1 missed
field goal. The usual from Mo.

** A.Waner: The main critique I'd make of Abby in this game is that she
wasn't very efficient. She whipped a couple of passes inside to no one in
particular, and blew a couple of fast break finishes by getting fancy
instead of just going hard to the rim. What I liked about her performance
is that she really grasped "next play" and simply moved on. After one
turnover, she dove on the ground to force a jump ball. There was no lack
of hustle. In the second half, she played smarter and executed a perfect
2-on-1 break with Harding and scored on a couple of cuts. Running point
for a few minutes, she found Currie and Bales inside for hoops. Her three
point shooting wasn't there, but that sort of thing comes and goes.
What's important is that her attitude and effort were positives.

** Harding: Lindsey, like Monique, is mostly playing on cruise control at
the moment. Mostly, she's content to set things up for others and play
tough defense. She racked up 5 assists in the first ten minutes, with 2
fast breaks, 2 passes for jumpers and a perfect dish to a cutter. Harding
also had a midcourt steal, drove into traffic, and then adjusted for a
nifty scoop shot in mid-air. In the second half, she made herself known
offensively by cutting to the hoop on a Mistie Williams feed and finishing
a couple of fast break baskets. She didn't play much after that, seeing
just seven minutes in the second half. Lindsey didn't even have to
attempt a single jumper as she was able to find open players all game

** Smith: Nish was listed with 3 turnovers, though one of them was a
questionable offensive foul. That aside, she had a strong overall game.
Smith was able to get into the flow offensively early on, despite not
starting. She nailed a three in the first half, and later sank a pull-up
17' jumper and another three. Nish also played fine defense, playing the
passing lanes for a steal and deftly moving in for a layup. While Abby
Waner has earned a starting spot, I don't think she has a lock on the
position, and I could certainly see Nish moving back into that role. As
long as she keeps creating for others and hits open shots, she'll see
plenty of minutes regardless of when she comes in.

** Kurz: It was pointed out to me that Laura is now slightly taller than
Mistie Williams! That would make her a bit over 6-2, and that extra size
is proving to be effective. Laura has very patiently worked her way up
the depth chart, and she filled in for Carrem Gay in this game at back-up
post. Granted, she wasn't playing against a big opponent, but her overall
results were still impressive. While her three point shot wasn't
dropping, Laura was still scoring in a variety of ways. She had a
stickback, a post-up, a three point play cutting to the basket, a fast
break finish, a couple of 17' jumpers and a 10' baseline jumper after an
inbounds pass. Laura also blocked a three point attempt and stuffed
another shot inside, while grabbing 6 boards. Kurz made the most of her
minutes and is looking more comfortable as a multi-positional player.

** Black: A business-as-usual game for Chante, who missed a couple of
attempts but kept plugging away. Her best basket was her last, when she
finished a smooth three point play. Her first two scores were stickbacks.
I liked seeing Chante in with Bales; that duo made an imposing
shotblocking pair.

** Foley: For the first time all year, Jess looked completely healthy.
After recovering from surgery this summer, Foley had looked a bit slow at
both ends. In this game, she looked light on her feet and was zipping all
over the court. Early on, she missed several shots before sinking a three
in the corner. Later in the first half, she was handling the ball a bit
and hit Emily Waner for threes. Most impressively, she finished a fast
break with contact, earning a three point play. In the second half, she
ran a lot of point, finding Smith, Kurz and Black for baskets in short
order while nailing another three. It was good to see this solid veteran
start to get her sea legs back, because she'll be needed later on.

** E.Waner: I was happy to see Emily get some minutes with the starting
frontcourt, because it's important for her development to get her
comfortable with those players. An interesting side development in this
game is the chemistry developing between Emily and Jess Foley. When Foley
was handling the ball late in the first half, she drove and kicked it to
Emily in the right corner, where she nailed 2 threes. It's still clear
that she's not 100% as of yet because she looks more than a step slow.