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Duke wins despite Cavalier effort

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The No. 1 Duke women"s basketball team ran its winning streak to 10 games against Virginia Friday night. Facing the Cavaliers (12-4, 2-1 in the ACC) as the top-ranked team for the third consecutive years, the Blue Devils (16-1, 2-0) took control in the second half and cruised to an 87-65 victory at University Hall.

In the first half, Virginia scored 40 points, the most allowed by the Blue Devils in any half this season. Duke, however, recovered its defensive composure when play resumed, switching to a pressure defense and regaining its foul-plagued center Alison Bales.

'I was really disappointed in our effort and in our execution,' head coach Gail Goestenkors said of her team"s initial play. 'We needed to become the aggressor because we weren"t in the first half.'

Leading by only four when the teams took the court again, the Blue Devils played like the nation"s top squad with a 17-7 run, putting the game out of reach for Virginia.

With a solid lead already in hand and 5:29 to play, Duke eliminated the chance of a Cavalier comeback on a fast-break play in which Wanisha Smith threw a behind-the-back, no-look pass to Jessica Foley for an easy layup. The bucket put Duke ahead 79-54 and stripped Virginia of any remaining momentum.

Forward Monique Currie again led the the Blue Devils in scoring with 23 points in just 30 minutes of play, which improved her team-best scoring average to 17.6 points per game. Currie, however, was not alone in leading Duke on its impressive second half run.

'You"re not going to stop Monique Currie, you can only try to contain her,' Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan said. 'She played really well tonight, it seemed she made every shot she took.'

Bales came back in the second half after early foul trouble left her on the bench for 14 minutes of the first period. Upon her return, the center helped hold the Cavaliers to just 28.6 percent shooting, whereas the team shot 45.5 percent from the field in Bales" first-half absence.

'She"s just such a presence for us on the inside,' Goestenkors said of the sophomore. 'She alters a lot of shots.'

Bales entered the game with 66 blocks, just two shy of the school record of 68 set by Sarah Sullivan during the 1982-83 season. With five blocks in the Virginia game, Bales broke the Duke season record, and now has 76 on the season.

Foley, who scored 13 of her 20 points in the second half, set a career-high, which she then broke Monday with 23 in a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

'It"s always hard to come up here to Virginia and get a win,' Foley said. '[This game] was really important because we"re so young and only have eight players.'

Though Currie and Foley dominated the scoring, Smith once again played a solid game while learning a position she was forced to play because of Lindsey Harding"s suspension. In Smith"s first season, Goestenkors has often called on her to guard the opponent"s most dangerous shooter.

'Wanisha takes pride in shutting down three-point shooters,' Goestenkors said.

At Virginia, Smith had to guard Brenna McGuire who had averaged four three-pointers a game over the team"s previous four contests. Smith stifled McGuire, holding her to 0-for-9 shooting and one point on the night.

Averaging 17.1 turnovers per game, the Blue Devils only coughed up 13 against Virginia, including five from Smith, who has struggled controlling the ball at times this season. Though her team"s total was much lower, Goestenkors still felt that her squad had room for improvement and noted that most of the turnovers were unforced, two coming off Chante Black inbound passes after the Cavaliers had scored.

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