Not the showing Duke wanted

In the highly anticipated 1 versus 2 matchup in a battle of unbeatens at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the Jimmy V Classic, it turned into a dud for the Duke women’s basketball team. With a sellout crowd (9,000) and a few of their athletic cohorts in attendance (the football and wrestling teams), the Blue Devils were blown out from the very beginning, as #1 UConn won 83-61.

Thumbs-down-231x300The Huskies went on a 15-1 run that headed into the under eight minute media timeout in the first half. That seemed to take the life out of the Blue Devils. They had a lot of really good shots during that stretch, but nothing was going through the net.

Duke starts three seniors and brings two more off the bench. For the most part, they played like freshmen. Tricia Liston looked flustered, making just 5-of-12 shots on the night. She did not connect from the outside. Haley Peters also struggled with her shot (just 2-of-7 in the first half). Chelsea Gray had her moments (she scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting), but she was not aggressive enough against the top ranked team.

It was not just them. Elizabeth Williams was virtually non-existent for the second straight game and her shot really looked bad. She was just 4-of-13 from the field for nine points. She also committed four turnovers.

Alexis Jones was also non-existent until the closing minutes of the game. She had zero points at the half and zero assists. When the game was out of hand, she did not give up the basketball for the team’s last four possessions. Jones finished with ten points on 4-of-10 shooting.

 

UConn shot well over 50% in the first half and finished the game shooing just under 50% (49.2%). Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis returned from an elbow injury (she last played on November 11th) and put on a show. It really was not very hard for her to make 7-of-11 three pointers because she was WIDE open for most of them. But is was not just her: UConn made 12-of-24 shots from beyond the arc.

Breanna Stewart, who is probably the best player in the country, also put on a show in the first half. She scored 15 of her 26 points on 6-of-12 shooting. She finished with a double-double, as she hauled in 11 rebounds.

So defense was a HUGE issue for the Blue Devils and has been all season.

 

Duke settled for too many outside shots in the first half and did not shoot it well (2-of-11). They did a better job of attacking the basket in the second half and actually made it a game with 7:45 to go. The crowd was back into the game, as Duke only trailed by 13 points at 65-52. By the 3:30 mark, Duke was facing their biggest deficit of the game at 76-52.

The Huskies won the rebounding battle, 40-31. They had 25 assists on 30 made field goals. Duke had 13 assists on 27 made field goals.

On the bright side for the Blue Devils, turnovers were not a huge problem, as they committed 13 of them. They did force 14 turnovers and had seven steals.

 

For UConn, Stefanie Dolson finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. She also hauled in nine rebounds and dished out six assists. Despite foul trouble, Bria Hartley scored 13 points, hauled in five rebounds, and dished out four assists. Moriah Jefferson may have been their spark though, as she ripped a rebound right out of Liston‘s hands under the basket in the first half. There is a significant size and experience difference between the two. She scored nine points and dished out seven assists. She also had three rebounds and three steals.

 

It was a bad loss, but it only counts for one loss. They need to put this one away, regroup, and move on to the next game. That next game is on Thursday night against Albany. After that, they head to number five Kentucky for a Sunday afternoon battle.

 

*Prior to the matchup, the Huskies were 6-0 against Duke with a +29.3 margin of victory.

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