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Duke Falls To Florida State In ACC Tournament

And at 15-15, the Blue Devil’s season is almost certainly over

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Ball rack Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State ended Duke’s ACC Women’s Tournament run 51-41 Thursday night.

Duke did lots of things well against the favored Seminoles. But a dismal shooting night, combined with poor defensive rebounding negated all the good things.

The loss ends Duke’s season at 15-15, while the 23-7 Seminoles move on to play NC State in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Joanne P. McCallie called it a “blue-collar game” and Duke was out-blue-collared. FSU out-rebounded Duke 42-28 and shut down everybody for Duke not named Haley Gorecki or Leaonna Odom. Duke’s two best players combined for 30 points but everyone else shot 5-for-28. The Blue Devils shot 17-for-58 from the field (29.3 percent), 2-for-12 from beyond the arc and compiled a miserly six assists.

Duke’s defense was solid, sometimes better than solid. The Seminoles shot only 41 percent from the field, turned it over 15 times--Duke only had eight--and got to the foul line only eight times; they made five.

But you’ve got to be able to be able to put the ball in the basket, not have the fourth-lowest point total in school history.

Duke never led. FSU hit four of their first five shots and led 9-6. Duke tightened up on defensive but couldn’t get anything going on offense, especially outside.

The fast-moving first quarter-only one foul was called--ended with FSU up 14-10. Duke’s points came on five layups, with nothing outside the lane.

“I think our length on the perimeter and the speed that we had,” Sue Semrau said, when asked about her team’s perimeter defense. “Morgan Jones is so long and Naushia Woolfolk has such great athleticism. I thought we did a fantastic job. I have to give credit to my assistant Joy McCorvey. We were very well-prepared and we stuck to the game plan the whole game.”

Duke actually tied it at 14 on layups by Gorecki and Jade Williams. But FSU outrebounded Duke 12-to-1 in the second period, keeping alive their possessions, while shortening Duke’s.

“That’s what we talk about every day,” Semrau said of her team’s rebounding dominance. “You don’t have to be tall to be a warrior. We talk about toughness and these kids have continued to grow.”

Florida State consistently out-quicked Duke for the loose-ball rebounds and outfought Duke for the contested rebounds.

“We did not accomplish our goals at all, as far as rebounding is concerned,” McCallie conceded. “Credit Florida State for rebounding much better than we did and making a few more plays than we did. You’ve got to be able to hunker down and concentrate. It was an ugly game and you have to find ways to get things done. This was always going to be a 60-or-lesser point game.”

Gorecki ended Duke’s distance drought with a 3-pointer that made it 21-17 and hit a late layup to send Duke into the locker room down 23-19, a manageable deficit for a team shooting 34 percent and minus 13 on the boards.

But Duke could never climb out of the hole.

Duke didn’t score for the first 3:27 of the third quarter. A Kiah Gillespie three made it 28-19.

But Odom heated up, scoring eight points in just over four minutes, as Duke got it to 35-31.

FSU scored last in the third, to make it 37-31.

McCallie said the game was there for the taking.

Duke didn’t take it.

“Despite all the problems, we were in a seven-point game, a six-point game in the fourth quarter. You have to find a way.”

Duke didn’t score for three minutes into the final stanza and fell behind 43-31, before a Gorecki 3-pointer stopped the bleeding. Duke closed to 45-38 but missed five free throws in two minutes, squandering their last chance.

Gorecki ended with 17 points, Odom 13.

But that was about it.

Duke’s two freshmen starters, Miela Goodchild and Onome Akinbode-James, both struggled in their first competitive post-season game. Akinbode-James scored two points, Goodchild was held scoreless, the duo combining for 1-for-9 from the field.

Neither Faith Suggs nor Jayda Adams could duplicate their magic from last night and Jade Williams was 3-for-12 from the field

McCallie said the youngsters will learn and grow.

“Playing off ball, cuts to get open, plays off the bounce. It’s not always a catch-and-shoot game. You have to be able to play off the bounce. Those are skill sets that need to be developed.”

The season is over. Duke will not consider a WNIT invite. Gorecki says next season begins and she’s looking forward to leading Duke back to the post-season.

“Bringing my experience and leadership to next season. As the season went on, everyone grew as a player and we have to bring that to the off-season, working and getting better.”

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