The top-ranked women"s basketball team did not play like a No. 1 squad in the first half against Georgia Tech Monday night. Struggling early before overpowering their opponent, the Blue Devils outscored the Yellow Jackets 52-23 in the second half en route to an 82-59 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke (17-1, 3-0 in the ACC) trailed Georgia Tech (10-5, 1-3) by 10 points two minutes into the second half after three consecutive three-pointers by Yellow Jacket Chioma Nnamaka stretched the visitors" lead to 45-35. The Blue Devils bounced back immediately, however, when back-to-back threes by Wanisha Smith drew Duke to within five. After one of Jessica Foley"s seven three-pointers knotted the game at 49, Monique Currie hit a layup and the Blue Devils had an advantage they did not surrender.
'I was really proud of the way we responded in the second half,' head coach Gail Goestenkors said. 'I thought in the first half we got out-hustled, outworked.... I thought we did a much better job, were much more aggressive on both ends of the floor [in the second half].'
Foley and Currie led the way for Duke after the break, both in scoring and on the glass. Foley netted 14 of her career-high 23 points and pulled down six of her 10 rebounds in the second half for her first career double-double. Currie had an equally strong final 20 minutes, scoring 16 points, shooting 7-of-8 from the field and securing six of her game-high 11 rebounds. As a team, the Blue Devils shot 65 percent from the field and impressive 67 percent from beyond the arc in the second half.
'Obviously [Currie is] a special player, and tonight she showed that--she stepped up when her team needed her,' Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. 'The thing I like about her is she"s kind of like the silent attacker--you don't even really know she"s got 27 points and 11 rebounds.'
Duke"s offense throughout the game revolved around its three-point shooting. Foley tied a school record with seven three-pointers, and the team set a new Duke record with 13.
'[Georgia Tech] did a great job taking away our inside game, so we needed to be able to hit our shots from the outside,' Goestenkors said. 'A great team has great balance.'
The Blue Devils needed their offensive surge in the second half because of their sub-par defensive performance early in the game. The Yellow Jackets hit 55 percent of their three-point attempts in the first half and freshman Jill Ingram led all scorers with 18 points at the break, including a 4-for-5 effort from behind the arc. Duke"s defense adapted in the second half, holding Ingram to two points on 1-of-7 shooting.
'[Ingram] was shooting 17 percent from the three-point line for the season, so we weren"t playing her for the three initially, but sometimes players get hot and you need to adjust,' Goestenkors said. 'It just took us a little longer to adjust than we"d like, but I thought we did a better job in the second half.'
The Blue Devils first-half defense was mediocre, and their offense was no better. Six minutes into the game, Duke had more turnovers--six--than points--five--allowing Georgia Tech to jump out to a 23-8 lead. The Blue Devils controlled the ball better the rest of the game, turning it over only nine more times and recording 21 assists on 30 field goals for the game. Alison Bales also blocked five more shots, extending her single-season school record.
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