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Poor shooting nearly dooms Blue Devils

ATLANTA - Georgia Tech exposed a weakness in the mighty Duke offense that may haunt the Blue Devils when they face tougher competition in the future.

Coming into their contest against the Yellow Jackets, the Blue Devils were averaging 99.8 points per game over their last eight contests. But Georgia Tech implemented a defensive scheme that held Duke to a season-low 67 points.

The Yellow Jackets double-teamed Duke posts whenever they received the ball in the paint. Duke rotated Chante Black, Mistie Williams and Alison Bales in and out of the game. The three forwards could not find a gap in the defense or provide a burst of scoring.

"I thought, in particular, in our match-up zone and our man-to-man, we were able to alternate our defenses a little bit and make some misses," Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph said. "I thought we caused them some problems."

The net effect was congestion on the inside, which forced Duke to throw up awkward shots. Although Duke managed to grab 23 offensive rebounds, it was not able to capitalize, scoring just 19 second-chance points and 20 points in the paint.

As a result of their interior struggles, the Blue Devils turned to outside shooting. But the three-pointer did not offer Duke much solace either as the team shot 30.4 percent-a far cry from their 44.8 percent season average.

In last year's two games against Georgia Tech, senior guard Jessica Foley went 13-for-23 from three-point range. The Blue Devils were in need of a similar shooting spark this time around. The likely candidate was guard Monique Currie, who was named ACC Player of the Week Monday after she averaged 18.3 points in three victories over ACC opponents last week. But the lid on the basket was shut for Currie, who shot 4-for-13 and missed all three of her attempts from behind the three-point line.

"I just think I missed a lot of open shots," Currie said. "I had a lot of open shots. They just weren't going down."

Duke struggled to find another scoring option. The Blue Devils managed to get open looks outside but never found a rhythm from behind the arc. Even last year's sharpshooter Foley just managed one three-pointer.

"I thought it would be a bit of a struggle," head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "They are very scrappy, holding most of their opponents to low-scoring games. Every now and again, you are going to have a game when you are not hitting shots, when you need to rely on your defense and rebounding."

Georgia Tech stymied Duke's usually potent post attack, despite the fact that the unranked Yellow Jackets did not have nearly the talent that upcoming Blue Devil opponents No. 1 Tennessee and No. 4 North Carolina will bring later this month.

The Blue Devils survived against Georgia Tech. But if they want to keep their undefeated season alive, they will need to find a way to create easy shots down low when their outside shots are not falling.


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