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Blue Devils look sloppy, have just enough to win

It was a war of attrition—whichever team played less poorly would win.

In Thursday’s game, top-ranked Duke was that team, barely not-losing to No. 20 Maryland 60-57 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils (19-2, 5-1 in the ACC) and the Terrapins (13-5, 3-4) combined for 41 turnovers, and neither team shot better than 40 percent from the field.

“We were just really happy to come away with a win,” a relieved head coach Gail Goestenkors said. “It was a really hard-fought game. I knew Maryland was a great team and they just keep coming at you at both ends of the court. We just feel very fortunate to come away with a win.”

And fortunate they were. Duke, which averages 80 points per game, scored a paltry 60 and missed all nine attempts from three-point range. Monique Currie, Mistie Williams and Wanisha Smith accounted for all but 10 of the Blue Devils’ points.

Minutes passed a few times during the game when nobody on the floor put the ball in the basket. There were plenty of easy opportunities, like free throws, but nothing came of them. In the span of two minutes midway through the first half, the teams exchanged possession of the ball nine times. Currie and Maryland’s Ashleigh Newman even took free throws, yet nobody could score.

Both teams frequently made errant passes—some to the other team, some to nobody at all.

“I saw some passes that I hadn’t seen in a long time,” Goestenkors said. “We had done a good job of taking care of the ball up until the Carolina game. Even tonight, a couple of Ali’s [Bales] passes—she’s a really good passer for us—she threw a couple where there wasn’t really anybody with a white jersey that was in the area.”

On Maryland’s side, there were times when the Terrapins would throw up multiple shots on a single possession, only to come away empty-handed.

Despite the subpar play all around, Currie, Williams and Smith played relatively strong games to push Duke ahead of Maryland in the closing minutes. Williams’ usual intensity helped invigorate the crowd, and Currie hit a couple of key shots near the end to pull ahead.

After a disappointing game against North Carolina, Smith put forward a better effort, scoring 14 points.

Like Duke, Maryland also lost recently to an ACC foe, its loss at the hands of N.C. State Sunday. Coming off last weekend’s losses the Blue Devils and the Terrapins looked tired on the court and sloppy in execution. Duke and Maryland alike saw the shot clock whittle down, and each team rushed shots that invariably caught nothing but air.

“Normally we’re a very good shooting team, and we’ve got a lot of players that can hit the three,” Goestenkors said. “It just wasn’t our night, and fortunately it wasn’t their night either.”

Jessica Foley, the team’s primary outside shooter, took five attempts from behind the arc in the first half. Finding little success, Foley tried driving to the basket and put up shots that are uncharacteristic of the guard, finishing the night 2-for-12.

After showing bursts of promise this season, Bales tallied only three rebounds and four points. She turned the ball over three times with intercepted and misguided passes from the high post.

But, as they say in sports, a win is a win. And after the loss to UNC, a win was all the Blue Devils needed.

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