With Alana Beard in attendance and Lindsey Harding’s suspension looming over the team, Jessica Foley stole the show, leading No. 6 Duke to an easy 91-62 victory against the EA Sports All-Stars Wednesday night.
Starting at point guard because of Harding’s absence, Foley came out strong, scoring five points in the first three minutes to spark the Blue Devils. The junior guard scored 19 points, including four three-pointers while dishing out five assists.
Harding’s absence forced the Blue Devils to use several different players at the point, including Foley, sophomore forward Monique Currie and freshman Wanisha Smith. At times, the team struggled to hold on to the ball but was able to exhibit enough control to keep its offense going.
“I’m not fully comfortable in that position yet,” Foley said. “I had a few highs, but then I think I slowed down a bit on offense, dribbling around a little too much in the backcourt.”
Currie chipped in with 16 points, displaying her inside-outside versatility throughout the game. The ACC Preseason Player of the Year also dominated the glass, pulling down 11 rebounds, five of them on offense.
“Jess and Mo set the tone for us, calmed us down when we needed to be calmed down a little and hit big shots, which we’re going to need from them all season long,” head coach Gail Goestenkors said.
The game’s defining play came five minutes into the second half, when Currie dove across the floor to scoop up a loose ball. She then passed the ball to Foley behind the three-point line. Foley nailed the shot, enlivening the Duke bench and the 2,154 people in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sophomore captain Caitlin Howe and senior Wynter Whitley also scored in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After one Howe basket in the second half, Beard, who was sitting behind the baseline, stood up and cheered, yelling, “That’s ‘Howe’ you do it.”
In their first competition as Blue Devils, all three freshmen contributed to Duke’s commanding victory. Smith, who will see increased playing time until Harding returns, penetrated through the porous defense.
“I think [Wanisha] gained confidence during the course of the game,” Goestenkors said. “I think the same thing with Chante [Black]. As the season progresses, they’re going to be big time players for us.”
Black teamed up with Alison Bales on an imposing defensive front line, each tallying three blocks. One of Black’s blocks led to a Duke fast break that ended with an impressive give-and-go between Howe and Currie, who finished with a running layup. Throughout the game, the Blue Devils were able to capitalize on numerous fast breaks.
“The first part of the season is really going to be about forming a new identity for this team,” Goestenkors said. “In particular this year, these games are important for us in seeing how we respond in different situations.”
Although the team has yet to set a starting lineup for the season, it has begun to make adjustments as the game progressed. Duke relied more on its zone defense than it has in the past.
Besides a chance to employ some new sets, Wednesday night was an opportunity for the Blue Devils to finally play against a squad other than their own.
“We’re sick of beating up on each other and killing each other in practice,” Currie said.
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