CHAPEL HILL — For the Canisius Golden Griffins, simply playing in the NCAA Tournament was a fitting conclusion to a successful season.
Few gave the 2005 MAAC champions much of a chance against the second-seeded Blue Devils, and Sunday’s Round 1 matchup unfolded as scripted. Duke easily defeated the young, undersized Canisius squad, 80-48, and will move on to play Boston College here Tuesday.
“Obviously, we knew we were up against a really good team. Their significant size and athletic advantage wore us out a bit,” Canisius head coach Terry Zeh said. “They’re such a good basketball team and they do so many things well that it makes it tough for us to really be prepared, but I’m certainly proud of our team.”
From the opening tip, the Blue Devils jumped out to a sizeable lead. The Golden Griffins’ zone did little to stop the Duke attack—the taller Blue Devils (29-4) dumped uncontested passes right into the heart of the Canisius (21-10) defense. With sharpshooter Jessica Foley sidelined with tendinitis in her left foot, Duke featured a four-forward lineup that put up 46 points in the paint.
“We’ve had two weeks to practice, and we really had to work on the things we weren’t doing so well,” junior Mistie Williams said. “We have always wanted an inside-out game and some days we do it better than others, but we definitely worked on our passing.
“I think that’s our mindset—we just have to find a way to get it in. We definitely took advantage of that today, and it showed.”
Williams led the Blue Devils with 21 points Sunday and teamed up with junior Monique Currie and freshman Chante Black to dominate in the paint. The three forwards combined for 51 points and 30 rebounds.
Duke’s size created equally advantageous matchups on the defensive end. The Blue Devils blocked 10 shots Sunday, forcing the Golden Griffins to run their offense from beyond the arc.
“We knew that we were going to have to make shots from the perimeter,” Zeh said. “Because of their size, it’s difficult to score in our high-low situation.
“I told them before the game, ‘If you have an open look and you feel good and want to take it, take it and don’t think about it.’ That’s obviously the way they played.”
Canisius was ultimately unsuccessful from the three-point line, shooting a paltry 5-for-23.
The Golden Griffins’ first legitimate offensive run came during the final three minutes of the opening half, when Jesse Lamparski, J.J. Williams and Megan Lyte were able to slice through the Blue Devils’ defense and score back-to-back-to-back layups.
Canisius opened the second half with two consecutive three-pointers that cut Duke’s lead to 11.
Although it appeared for a moment that the Golden Griffins might claw their way back into the game, the Blue Devils silenced the boisterous Canisius faithful with a 15-2 run.
“It didn’t scare me,” Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said of Canisius’ attempted comeback. “It made me mad and upset me because they were the aggressor, and one of our trademarks is being the aggressor at both ends of the floor.
“Good teams are going to make runs and that’s fine,” she said. “You just have to be able to withstand it and then turn around and make your own run, which we did.
Black set a Duke record for rebounds as a freshman and now has 242.... The Blue Devils now have 251 blocks on the season, which is a new NCAA single-season record.... On Tuesday, the Blue Devils will play seventh-seeded Boston College, which defeated 10th-seeded Houston, 65-43.
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