The injury bug has claimed a Duke star yet again.
Sophomore forward Azurá Stevens missed Thursday's 67-52 win against Virginia and is listed as day-to-day after tearing the plantar fascia in her left foot Monday against No. 3 Notre Dame. Stevens suffered the injury during the first half, but played on and logged a game-high 40 minutes of floor action in the loss to the Fighting Irish.
The Raleigh native is the Blue Devils’ leading scorer and rebounder this season, averaging 19.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game and racking up 12 double-doubles.
“We knew right after [the Notre Dame game],” Duke head coach McCallie said. “She hurt that foot during the Notre Dame game early.... I mean that was a real bummer. I wondered during the Notre Dame game why at points she looked a little bit not focused. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Stevens' injury was announced Thursday less than 30 minutes before tip-off of Duke’s game against the Cavaliers. The 6-foot-6 sophomore did not warm up with her teammates and watched from the sidelines as Rebecca Greenwell and Angela Salvadores picked up the offensive slack to lead the Blue Devils to victory.
The injury marks yet another blow to a Duke team that has suffered from ailments all season. Freshman Haley Gorecki has not played since Jan. 3 at Syracuse with a hip injury, and both Lyneé Belton and Angela Salvadores have missed time with ankle issues.
Duke's 2013-14 season was derailed by season-ending knee injuries to both Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones. The Blue Devils return to action Sunday at Miami, and it is unclear whether Stevens will be healed in time for that game.
With Stevens out, the Blue Devils are much more vulnerable on the inside. But the void also provides different players with the opportunity to elevate their level of play and take on more responsibility. Sophomore Erin Mathias drew the starting assignment—her third of the year—in Stevens' spot, and finished with four points and four rebounds. The other pieces of the starting frontcourt—Amber Henson and Oderah Chidom—combined for 16 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Blue Devils outrebound the Cavaliers 44-22.
“It doesn’t change our prep,” McCallie said. “I have a lot of confidence in this team. I thought that this is a great opportunity. Lets see how this team steps up…. I thought that we had some good solid team play [against Virginia], and we’re building our team. And it ‘s wonderful for us to be able to build it and have success with Azurá out.”