Duke 60, Maryland 57. January 27, 2005. Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Post-Carolina, the Duke team didn't exactly have a lot of time to feel
sorry for itself as they had to play against a highly-motivated Maryland
squad, ranked #20. The Terps had beaten UNC pretty soundly up in college
park, but had dropped a few games in the league unexpectedly. A road win
against a reeling Duke team would have been huge for their postseason
seeding. For Duke, the loss to UNC really hurt the confidence of a lot of
the younger players, and it showed against the Terps.
Fortunately for the Devils, Mo Currie showed no such hangover and
carried the team on her back in the second half once again, this time
getting a win. Duke's other veterans played well, as Mistie Williams
bounced back from a horrid showing against the Heels to put in a solid
performance here. Jess Foley and Wynter Whitley may not have had
impressive showings on the stat sheet, but both were important defensive
contributors; their intensity in the second half was a big key to the
victory. Most of all, Wanisha Smith recovered from her meltdown in Chapel
Hill to post solid numbers and play credible defense against Maryland star
Duke started off the game really clicking at both ends. Smith scored on
Duke's first possession on a runner, sparking an early 9-2 run. The
balance that has been Duke's hallmark was in full effect, with four
different players scoring, including posts Bales & Williams. Bales was
blocking shots, Duke was forcing turnovers and everything looked good.
The Devils extended their lead to 15-6 as Foley drove to the basket,
Currie scored on a fast break, and Williams got an easy layup thanks to a
great pass from Bales in the high post. Then the wheels came off for the
next four minutes as Maryland tied the game at 16. Shots were being
blocked, Kurz was called for charging, and Currie missed 2 free throws.
Williams gave Duke back the lead with a determined post move, but Shay
Doron finally got free to cut the lead to 19-18. Smith stuck back a miss
from Whitley, but Wynter had 2 bad plays in a row: fouling Doron and
throwing the ball away, leading to 4 Maryland points and a 22-21 Terp
lead. The two squads spent the next 2 minutes missing shot after shot.
Both teams had an opportunity to take control of the game and couldn't do
it. Finally, Currie threw an entry pass to Bales and Ali powered up for a
score. Ali then got the rebound after a miss, triggering a
Smith-to-Currie fast break and a 25-22 lead for Duke. Foley had a couple
of cracks at threes, but they didn't fall and Duke had to settle for a 2
point halftime lead. The Terps had challenged Duke inside and they were
holding their own, despite the fact that no one on their team could knock
down a jumper, either.
Both teams were playing hard, physical defense, but truthfully both
teams missed a lot of open shots. In the second half, Maryland started
making those shots. After Duke retook the lead on a Currie drive after
Foley picked up a steal, the Terps went on an 8-2 run. Duke simply
couldn't get anything to drop as the Terps attacked the basket, with
Anesia Smith's three point play against Jess Foley being a highlight.
With Duke down 6 and the team looking in disarray, Currie coolly stepped
up and attacked the rim. She scored on 2 consecutive drives, getting a
three point play on the latter. After a Terp score, Currie threw a
perfect pass to Smith for a fast break basket. Nish then drove and drew a
foul, and put Duke up again 38-37 with 2 freebies. After Doron put
Maryland in front again, Duke survived 2 Bales turnovers as Currie got a
rebound and was later fouled going to the basket.
Duke was daring Maryland to shoot and they couldn't knock down enough
shots. Currie rebounded another miss and got another fast break score for
Smith to make it 42-39 with ten minutes to go. Maryland kept it close as
Duke clung to a 1-3 point lead, with Williams hitting a big hook shot and
Foley going full court for a score. Whitley passed to Williams for a
score and came up with a steal that led to some Currie foul shots as Duke
built their lead to 51-46. After France hit a jumper, both teams went
without scoring for two minutes until Whitley came up with another steal,
and Currie scored on a post-up. Foley then stole the ball and started a
break, but missed a wide-open layup that would have given Duke a
three-possession lead with three minutes to go. Jade Perry then dug out
an offensive rebound and scored to make it a 3 point game. Currie had the
ball stripped and Doron took advantage, cutting it to 53-52 with two
Williams then rebounded a Currie miss for a huge stickback. Smith had a
chance to put the game away with a three but missed, and Maryland used a
three point play by Langhorne to tie it at 55 with 52 seconds left. Duke
called a timeout, Mistie set a huge pick for Monique, and Currie rattled
in a 15' jumper that made the place explode with joy. Duke played tough
defense and forced a tough shot from Doron, and Currie hit 2 free throws
to give Duke a 4 point lead with 21 seconds left. Anesia Smith quickly
hit a jumper to make it 2 again with 15 seconds, but Duke ran off 8 of
them. Foley hit 1 free throw, which meant Maryland had a chance to send
it into overtime. Frese called a timeout just before Doron shot the ball,
and that may have been a bad move. When the ball was inbounded, Duke
froze out Doron and forced frosh Asleigh Newman to take a long three,
which was blocked by Williams.
Coach G's group hardly performed like a well-oiled machine. Confidence
has ebbed for a number of players, while others are simply in slumps. The
good news is that Mo Currie is out-doing Alana Beard in recent games.
It's become quite obvious that's not only the best player in the ACC,
she's one of the very best in the country. She's unstoppable in a way
that no other player in the league can match, and she's delivered in the
clutch on more than one occasion this year. Still, one player can only
carry a team so far, and Mo will need the kind of balanced scoring from
her teammates that she was getting earlier in the year.
1. Execution. Maryland did not pressure the ball very much and very
rarely used any kind of press. Nevertheless, Duke still managed to cough
up the ball plenty, often unforced.
2. Post play. Duke's front line got outplayed and outmuscled by
Maryland's. Frosh Langhorne and Perry outscored & outrebounded the Duke
trio of Bales, Williams & Black. That nearly helped Maryland pull off the
win, because Frese never used zone and was confident that her bigs (even
though they were shorter than Duke's) could hang with the Devils'.
3. Shooting. Duke was 0-9 from three and only 61% from the foul line.
Even point-blank shots weren't falling, and players started to rush them
as a result.
1. Perimeter defense. Doron has been known to put up 30+ point on foes,
but Duke did contained her, forced her to take bad shots, and kept her off
the foul line. When you take away her shooting, she doesn't do much else
for her team and the team struggled to get any other kind of offense,
especially from the perimeter. This is where Duke's size really
helped--the Terps got few wide-open looks.
2. Attacking the basket. On a night when no jumpers were falling, Duke
scored 38 of its points in the paint. That mostly meant Currie and Smith
attacking off the dribble and Williams pounding away inside. As a result,
Duke got 23 free throw attempts.
3. Offensive rebounding. This was perhaps the biggest key for Duke.
Though they only had 9 second-chance points to Maryland's 14, those points
proved crucial. The Devils often had multiple cracks at the basket.
** Bales: This had to be one of the worst games of Ali's career. To be
quite honest, she looked like she was in a fog throughout the game, which
is unusual for a player who is known for her court smarts. When she
started to throw the ball away a couple of times in a row in the second
half, there was no choice but to pull her. It's a shame, because she
started off well, making Langhorne take bad shots and getting rebounds.
Ali started off the second half poorly and things only got worse from
there. Hopefully she's be able to snap back from this game soon.
** Williams: Mistie bounced back from being dominated in Chapel Hill to
putting up pretty decent numbers here. She scored 6 points in the last
six minutes of the game, all of them crucial. That included a hook shot
that helped open up some other things for her teammates, a gorgeous spin
move for a score, and a crucial stickback with under two minutes remaining
that stopped a Maryland run. This was not a work of art for the power
player, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.
** Currie: Once again, Mo started slowly, putting up solid first half
numbers (6 points, 7 rebounds) but nothing spectacular. But when her team
went down, she rescued them once again, using her driving ability to
really hurt the Terps. It was Mo's passing that also hurt Maryland,
getting 2 confidence-boosting fast break baskets for Wanisha Smith and
throwing a perfect pass to Foley that she missed. Down the stretch, she
increased her degree of difficulty and was rewarded. First came a
textbook-perfect post-up on Charmaine Carr, and then came that jumper that
she rattled home. Carr was playing tough defense on her throughout the
game, but Mo eventually fouled her out on her way to 16 points in the
game's last fifteen minutes.
** Foley: Jess still couldn't hit the ocean with her jumper, and she even
missed a wide-open layup that would have given Duke a commanding lead down
the stretch. Still, that didn't stop her from hustling like crazy at the
defensive end, coming up with big steals at crucial times. Her one-woman
break finish came when Duke had a 3-on-2. Maryland stayed home on Jess's
other options, and she wisely just went straight to the basket rather than
force the shot. Speaking of forcing shots, I think Jess is shooting a bit
too quickly, and that's hurting the way she shoots. She may even need to
break down her mechanics a bit and see if there's a way to combine good
form with a quicker release.
** Smith: Nish happily spent the game attacking the basket, and good
things came about as a result. She used her superior size and strength to
go right at Doron, and though her jumper wasn't falling, she found other
ways to score. She tenaciously kept at the ball and got 2 significant
stickbacks. Nish also had a couple of transition scores and an early
runner. More importantly, she took better care of the ball.
** Kurz: Laura came in for a few minutes in the first half and committed
an offensive foul trying to get past Doron. After she had some problems
dealing with the superior speed of UNC and the physical nature of this
game, Coach G decided to bench her in favor of Wynter Whitley. Hopefully
Laura will get back in the rotation after Duke's murderous run of games.
** Whitley: The numbers don't show it, but Wynter came up with several
huge plays in the second half. She took a charge, forced a held ball,
came up with two steals and made a perfect pass to Williams for a score.
Those 2 steals were instrumental in Duke's comeback as Currie scored off
both of them. Wynter also had to spend much of the game both trying to
defend quick point guard Anesia Smith as well as cheating into the post to
fend off Crystal Langhorne. Defensively, she had to do it all, and did a
solid job all-around.
** Black: The main problem with Chante is that she's deathly afraid of
taking a bad shot but winds up passing up on good ones as well. That was
certainly the case in both halfves, as she aggressively went after
offensive boards but didn't even try to take a shot. She's also lost
confidence in her foul shooting stroke after going just 1-4. That said,
she had a big offensive rebound and passed it to Williams in the second
half. She missed, but Currie attacked the basket for a game-changing
three point play. On defense, Chante had some trouble with Langhorne's
strength but mostly did a decent job on her. She noticeably played with a
lot more energy in the second half as she generally became a lot less
concerned with mistakes and more concerned with making plays. Considering
that Bales wasn't ready to help on this night, Chante really came through
like a trooper.
** Cameron Craziness: There was a big crowd of over 6,000 tonight, and the
place was rocking. There's something about Maryland that brings out the
smartass in people, and the Sixth Woman was in good form here. Brenda
Frese was the favorite target, with "Your shoes match your roots" and
"We're not blind, you're not blonde" being chanted. A sign reading
"Secret: Strong Enough For A Man But Made For Brenda" inspired a chant of
"Sweat, Brenda, Sweat!"