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Duke Vs NC State, Women's Game Report

Duke 52, NC State 49. January 30, 2005. Reynolds Coliseum.

Reynolds is not one of the easier venues to win at in women's college
hoops, even if the Devils have had some success there in recent years. In
fact, Duke has beaten the Wolfpack on the road 6 out of the last 8 years,
counting the most recent win. Still, those games have frequently been
ugly, as though Duke simply wasn't comfortable with the venue. Even the
first round NCAA games held in Raleigh two years ago weren't things of
beauty. Still, this has been an intense but clean rivalry over the last
decade, even as Duke has dominated the series of late. It's a shame that
expansion is getting in the way of a home-and-home, because both fanbases
like to travel to the away site and as a result the matchup always brings
a great gate for the home team. The Wolfpack Women drew over 8,000 for
this game, and it's likely that Duke would have drawn a similar number in

After some down years, Kay Yow has put together a very solid team that
is still in the process of jelling. Recent Wolfpack teams have had
trouble scoring, and while this team is improved in that area, it's still
a concern. However, this State squad is more athletic than recent
versions (a big recent problem) and plays a hounding, physical style of
defense. When you put that group up against Duke's own defensive
stalwarts, it was no surprise that the result would be a low-scoring

The two teams traded scores in the early going as Mistie Williams scored
in transition and Monique Currie nailed a 17' jumper. State took a 7-4
lead over Duke four minutes into the game, but a 9-0 run gave the Devils
control. That started with Wynter Whitley hitting a 15' baseline jumper
on a pass from Chante Black. State missed 5 shots prior to Whitley
hitting that one, while Duke had 4 misfires and 3 turnovers. After
multiple misses by both teams in the face of ferocious defense, Currie hit
a 5' jumper to put Duke back on top. Smith hit Williams on an inbound
play to make the score 10-7, and then Currie found Laura Kurz in the
corner for a three.

The Devils then went another three minutes without scoring before Currie
stepped up with a 15'jumper. Still, they were still on top 15-11. Mo
found Bales inside to make it 17-14 with under five minutes left in the
half. State attacked to cut the lead to 1, but Whitley stuck back her own
miss after a steal to push it back to three. Marquetta Dickens of State
was keeping them in the game and cut the lead to 19-18, but Whitley passed
to Bales inside for another score, and Ali followed that up later with a
free throw to make it 22-18 Duke. State hit a three and Duke then missed
3 cracks at the basket during the same possession. The defense held in
the last minute, and Currie sank a floater in the lane to give Duke a
tenuous 24-21 lead at the half. State shot 32% and Duke just 30%, but
superior offensive rebounding gave Duke some more chances. Duke's
backcourt of Smith and Foley went 0-5 from the field while the frontcourt
was perhaps even worse: Bales, Williams, Whitley and Black were a combined
6-20 from close-in.

The first few minutes of the second half saw a standoff between the two
clubs. Bales hit a long jumper to push Duke's lead up to 5, but an
assortment of misses and turnovers helped State creep to within 26-25.
Foley picked up her 4th foul on a dubious offensive foul being called.
Currie carried her team during the next few minutes, hitting a three, then
finding Williams on an entry pass, and then sinking a 15' jumper that put
Duke up 33-28. State closed within 33-30 with about twelve minutes left,
and Coach G rolled the dice by putting Foley back in.

That move generated immediate dividends as Jess stole the ball, which
led to Chante Black sticking back her missed three. That sparked a 9-0
run which seemed to give Duke control of the game. Foley then sank a
three on a pass from Currie and Duke really started to click offensively.
Williams hit Black inside for a post-up and Whitley followed up by dishing
to Mistie. Duke led 42-30 with under ten minutes to go, a lead that
seemed quite safe.

Foley came up with a steal but Currie couldn't convert it. Duke had
several chances to boost their lead, but wound up turning the ball over,
missing close-in shots, or worse yet, committing offensive fouls. That's
what happened to Foley with about seven minutes to go, sparking a 16-4 run
by State that tied the game at 46. Only 2 free throws by Bales and a
Williams basket kept Duke from falling behind. Meanwhile, State star
Tiffany Stansbury abused Duke's posts for 6 quick points, Kendra Bell hit
a three, Rachel Stockdale hit a three and Billie McDowell stuck back her
own miss. State had 3 chances to score on that possession as they
outworked Duke for the ball.

Williams turned the ball over and State had a chance at the lead. But
Bales blocked Bell and teamed with Williams to disrupt Stansbury. Currie
was fouled attacking the basket and hit 2 free throws with 1:17 left to
give Duke back the lead. However, State was patient on the offensive end
and Duke left Bell wide-open behind the three point line. That gave State
their first lead since early in the game. After a time-out, Duke cleared
out and set picks for Currie on the left side. With two defenders in her
face, Currie somehow banked in a 17' jumper and drew the foul. Hitting
the free throw (was there any doubt?) made it 51-49 in favor of Duke with
35 seconds left. Bales altered a McDowell shot and Williams came up with
the board. Still in a single-bonus situation, Mistie hit the clutch first
shot but missed the second, which would have given Duke a 2-possession
game. Still, Duke knew a three was coming, so they had all of their bigs
on the perimeter. Bales was out on one shooter and forced a bad shot, and
Smith grabbed the last rebound as Duke survived.

Writing this report several weeks later, it's interesting to see how
both teams have changed. Duke is no longer as dependent on Currie for
scoring, while State has proven themselves to be a top ACC contender. The
Pack are currently 19-5, with losses to Duke, UNC and Tennessee. They
play UNC on Sunday for a chance at the #2 seed, and possibly more,
depending on what Duke does the rest of the way. Duke managed to survive
a brutal stretch on their schedule and has a number of players stepping up
their play. The bottom line is that any road win is a good win in the

** Negatives:

1. Turnovers. When Foley was out of the game, Duke started getting killed
by NC State's very mild press. Every player had at least 1 turnover, and
five players had at least 3 miscues. This gave State plenty of
opportunities to score.

2. Closing out on shooters. Duke left a number of State's shooters
wide-open because they didn't rotate over quickly enough. State passed
the ball well, but Duke should have anticipated some of the passes and
moved quicker. Kendra Bell's wide-open three nearly beat Duke in this

3. Lack of confidence. With veteran Foley spending a lot of time on the
bench with foul trouble and then fouling out, the team had to rely on
Currie too much. As a result, young players like Smith became afraid to
shoot, meaning that Currie wound up having to do everything.

** Positives:

1. Post defense. Duke neutralized leaping marvel Khadijah Whittington and
forced star center Tiffany Stansbury to work very hard for her 13 points.
Duke also held her to just 5 rebounds.

2. Neutralizing quickness. Ashley Key, Kendra Bell and Billie McDowell
are all extremely quick, but none of them were able to use penetration
much to attack Duke. The Devils forced them to become stand-still
jump-shooters, which worked in Duke's favor.

3. Depth. The bench did a solid job on a night when any points came at a
high price. The bench combined for 11 of Duke's 52 points, 13 of 40
rebounds and 3 steals.


** Bales: Ali overcame a bad game against Maryland with a tremendous
defensive effort against the Wolfpack. She was absolutely key in the
closing moments of the game, blocking one shot, altering another, and
smothering a shooter on the perimeter. She hit a long jumper and scored
inside a couple of times, though she missed several close-in shots.
Overall, this was a solid showing against a very tough (but undersized)

** Williams: Mistie didn't shoot well and missed several layups, but also
had several key second half baskets. Her late free throw forced State to
take a three to tie, putting them in a tough position. Mistie had a key
basket to help stave off State a bit longer, and also had a couple of big
plays during Duke's run. Most importantly of all, she came up with a
crucial rebound to help protect Duke's lead.

** Currie: After being held in check for nearly twelve minutes in the
second half, Mo put her team ahead with free throws after State tied the
game, then made the most incredible shot of the year to win the game. If
this game didn't cement her ACC player of the year award, I don't know
what will. Mo once again did a little of everything: rebounding, passing,
defense (she forced 2 held balls) and scoring when the team needed it. On
a day when Duke struggled mightily (36% for the game), Currie came
through. And she had to do it against one of the toughest defensive teams
in the ACC that was keying in on her.

** Foley: Poor Jess was really star-crossed in this game. She picked up
three fouls in the space of a minute and eventually fouled out on some
bizarre offensive foul calls. Still, her ballhandling, passing and
scoring (she hit a crucial three in the second half) was responsible for a
big run that put Duke in command. When she fouled out, Duke unraveled and
nearly lost the game. In many respects, this game showed just how
important she is to the team, even if it isn't always obvious in terms of
pure stats.

** Smith: Nish had another tough game offensively, but she settled in a
bit more at the point, committing just 3 turnovers. Still, her lack of
confidence in her own shot put more pressure on Currie to perform.
Despite her problems, she did have a big assist to Williams in the second
half and fed the post steadily in the first half.

** Kurz: Laura had a dish to Currie for a three and nailed a trey of her
own. Otherwise, State kept her in check.

** Whitley: Wynter was a defensive gem in this game and also had a few
important offensive plays. That included entry passes to Bales & Williams
for scores, an early baseline jumper that broke a drought, and a first
half stickback. Wynter was one of the few bright spots in the first half,
when the team really needed them.

** Black: Chante had a strong game on the boards and rallied from some
early turnover difficulty to score twice during Duke's big second-half
run. That included a post-up and a stickback. She led the team with 8
rebounds and played solid defense throughout.