Maryland knocks Duke women's basketball out of NCAA tournament
SPOKANE, Wash.—Saturday, the deep ball proved superior to the paint.
Despite many Duke runs to close the gap, Maryland’s prolific three-point shooting fueled a 65-55 Terrapin win in the Sweet 16 Saturday afternoon at Spokane Arena. Not only did Maryland shoot 8-for-19 from beyond the arc, it also won the rebounding battle against the tallest team in the country.
“When they got those threes early we just didn’t adjust very well and then we finally shut them down,” said center Elizabeth Williams, whose scored 18 points in the final game of her Blue Devil career. “But we just were so inconsistent in the second half—that’s what hurt us.”
The top-seeded Terrapins (33-2) led from the start, giving up the lead only once during the game when a Williams jumper put the Blue Devils up 11-9 with 14:22 left in the first half.
With a size advantage at every position, Duke (23-11) wanted to play methodically but could not keep slowing the pace down. Although the Blue Devils avoided the type of severe turnover trouble that has caused problems throughout the year, Maryland took off as the No. 4 seed struggled shooting.
During the first half, the star of Maryland’s offense was Laurin Mincy, who shot 4-of-5 from beyond the arc during the frame and went to the locker room with 15 points.
“The lack of focus on Mincy was a real problem,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "Maryland did a terrific job of being the aggressor in the field half and it kind of set us back a little bit. They have a lot of guards…we didn’t."
At the same time, Duke was not able to rely on a usual strength—rebounding. Led by 6-foot-3 center Brionna Jones—who added 10 rebounds to her 10 points for a double-double—the Terrapins outrebounded the Blue Devils 33-24. On the offensive glass, Duke managed just two rebounds in the first 20 minutes.
Although it took a little time to reflect it on the scoreboard, the Blue Devils came out of the locker room with a different beat to their step. The team was starting to hunker down on defense in a way it had not in the first half and fed the ball down low.
“We talked about getting back to the basics, defense and rebounding, and getting back to the way we play basketball,” freshman Azura Stevens said. "That really helped us come out strong.”
Trailing by eight at the 15:08 mark in the second half, Duke jumped out on a 9-2 spurt, needing a little more than two minutes to cut the deficit to one. The Blue Devils used a block, an offensive rebound, a 3-pointer and three layups to force a Maryland timeout.
From there, though, it was all downhill for Duke.
Mincy did not score in the second half, but other sharpshooting Terrapins picked up the slack, scoring eight straight points to push the lead back to nine. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 18 of her game-high 24 points in the final 20 minutes and Brene Moseley hit a pair of timely triples to extend the Maryland advantage. The potent outside shooting—combined with eight more Blue Devil turnovers and an upbeat tempo to the game—spelled doom for the Duke.
“Once we made up our mind that we were going to attack and jam the ball inside like we always do, I think we put them on their heels,” senior guard Ka’lia Johnson said. “We just needed to keep that going for a full 40, not just 20 minutes.”
Maryland will face the winner of Gonzaga and Tennessee in the Elite Eight Monday night as the careers of Williams and Johnson came to a close for the Blue Devils. The seniors combined for 33 points in the loss.
“We’re never going to forget the lessons [Elizabeth and Ka’lia] brought,” McCallie said. “We’re not going to let go of the foundation for what they represent and who they are… Duke women’s basketball is so much better because [they] chose to be a part."