Just over one minute into the second half Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium, something clicked for the women’s basketball team.
The No. 3 Blue Devils (22-2, 8-1 in the ACC), who had been down for most of the first half, went on an 18-0 run, eliminating No. 24 Florida State’s hopes of another upset.
The spurt came after Duke switched to zone defense at the start of the second half and its bench players stepped up on the offensive end. This was more than enough to pull off a 75-64 victory over the Seminoles (19-5, 5-4).
The Blue Devils controlled play for most of the second half after taking the lead at the 18:55 mark. Florida State pulled a little closer in the end but Duke held a 19-point advantage on three separate occasions.
Monique Currie led the team with 14 points but played with a stress fracture in her left foot that she said was “a little uncomfortable.” Currie said her injury has hampered her running ability, but the junior will have the week to recuperate before Duke travels to take on No. 20 Maryland Feb. 13.
Although the Blue Devils set the pace through much of the second half, even with Currie a step slow, they struggled to get off to a strong offensive start against the Seminoles.
“We knew Florida State was a great team,” head coach Gail Goestenkors said of a squad that handed Duke its only ACC loss last season in Tallahassee. “They are a very tough matchup for us because they basically have five guards out there much of the time.”
In the first half, Duke played a man-to-man defense, which allowed Florida State to penetrate the lane, despite the height difference between the two teams. The Seminoles’ starting lineup featured just one player over 6-feet, while four Blue Devil starters were at least 6-feet tall. FSU’s tallest starter, 6-foot-1 guard Ganiyat Adeduntan, led her team with 12 first-half points.
After the Seminoles held a one-point lead at halftime, Duke came back after the break with a zone defense that forced nine FSU turnovers and gave the Blue Devils control of the game.
“Our zone was very good for us,” Goestenkors said. “On one end, we were getting stops with our zone. They were taking some long shots, we got some long rebounds, we got some fast break layups, which really got us excited.”
In the first half, Florida State recorded a 51.7 shooting percentage, but with a second-half change in Blue Devil defense, the Seminoles struggled offensively, making 35.7 percent of their attempts from the field.
This defensive pressure led to a more energetic Duke offense in the second half that outscored FSU, 41-29, and much of the surge came from the reserves. The Blue Devils had 23 points off the bench, while Florida State’s starters scored all of their team’s points. Freshmen Chante Black and Laura Kurz led the bench attack with eight and 11 points, respectively.
This bench play helped compensate for Currie’s stress fracture. Currie, who has averaged 20.6 points over the last nine games, scored only three of her 14 points in the first half.
“Monique Currie is a tremendous player,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said. “She’s got so many different elements to her game. She has improved as a three-point shooter. You have to defend her that way. She is a great post-up player. She was the one we worried about the most.”
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