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Despite poor shooting, Duke scrapes by Terps

The women?s basketball team managed to pull away down the stretch in a tough battle against Maryland Thursday night.

The women’s basketball team managed to pull away down the stretch in a tough battle against Maryland Thursday night.

With 41 seconds left and the score locked up at 55, Monique Currie peeled off a Mistie Williams screen and found herself wide open at the top of the key. She looked around for a moment and then coolly drilled the jump shot, giving the Blue Devils the lead in the final minute of the game.

Duke (19-2, 5-1 in the ACC) edged out Maryland (13-5, 3-4) 60-57 behind Currie’s determined play. For the second straight game, the junior performed well despite a lackluster performance from the rest of the Blue Devils.

Currie scored eight points in the final six minutes, including two clutch free throws in the last 30 seconds to help increase Duke’s lead to four.

Terrapin guard Anesia Smith responded to Currie’s free throws with a mid-range jump shot to pull the game back within two. After Jessica Foley made one of two at the line, Maryland got the ball and called a timeout with 3.8 seconds left.

Maryland head coach Brenda Frese drew up a play to get Shay Doron a look at a three-pointer to tie the game, but Duke would not let her touch the ball. Instead, Mistie Williams blocked an awkward final attempt at the buzzer from Maryland reserve Ashleigh Newman to seal the game.

Coming off a loss to North Carolina Monday in which Duke’s play was sloppy, the Blue Devils hoped to attack with more precision against Maryland.

“I don’t think that this was one of our better games as far as execution, particularly in the first half,” Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said. “I want to be aggressive, but we need to find that balance between aggressiveness and execution.”

Duke did not help itself with poor shooting for the second straight game. The Blue Devils shot just 38.3 percent on the game and failed to hit a three-pointer for the first time in 241 games.

Foley missed all five of her three-point attempts. She struggled all night as her usual outside shots were not open. On a few occasions in the first half she tried to take the ball to the basket, only to have the ball stolen or blocked.

But Foley was not the only player on the court struggling to find her game and playing out of her element.

The Blue Devils turned the ball over 20 times on the night. Maryland did its best to hand the ball back to Duke as often as possible, racking up 21 turnovers of its own.

“We’ve been turning over the ball at a rapid rate,” Frese said. “A lot of that is the pressure ‘D’ we face against Duke. They play aggressive, they play hard—they’re a physical team.”

The Blue Devil defense this game was more perimeter-oriented in an attempt to stop Doron, Maryland’s leading scorer. She finished with 16 points on only 5-for-15 shooting from the floor.

Much of the credit for slowing Doron can go to freshman Wanisha Smith, who took blame after the UNC loss. Smith responded with a strong defensive effort and 14 points and five assists on the offensive end.

“After the [Carolina] game, the coaches took my focus off the game and said, ‘you had a bad one,’” Smith said. “I just tried to move on.”

Over the past two games, Duke has seen a new level of intensity from ACC opponents and has struggled to adjust.

“On any given night anyone can beat anyone from top to bottom,” Frese said.

 

NOTES

6,524 was a season-high in attendance for the women’s team, spurred by a “Paint Cameron Blue” promotion.... Thursday’s victory was Duke’s 10th straight over Maryland.... The 30th straight home-win for the Blue Devils ties an ACC record.

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