The independent news organization of Duke University

Second-half spurt lifts Duke past Virginia

The Blue Devils went into halftime of Friday night's game leading visiting Virginia by 12 points, but within the first two minutes of the second half, Duke's lackluster play allowed the lead to slip to just six.

Visibly frustrated with her team's effort and with the score at 41-35, head coach Gail Goestenkors called a timeout. Duke (22-1, 9-1 in the ACC) had looked lethargic on defense and let Cavalier point guard Sharnee Zoll, who shot 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, take open looks from the perimeter to hack away at the Blue Devil lead.

"We just weren't playing with the effort, the intensity, the desire, the passion that I think we're known for," Goestenkors said.

Coming out of the timeout, guard Lindsey Harding sparked the 22-8 run that secured Duke's eventual 88-65 victory over Virginia (13-9, 2-8) at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Harding fed the ball inside to senior Mistie Williams, who finished down low. On the next possession, Harding stole the ball from Zoll and beat her all the way down the left side to convert a layup.

And neither Harding nor the Blue Devils would ever look back.

The junior guard finished with 12 points and five assists and committed only one turnover. The team went on to shoot 72 percent-18-for-25-from the field in the second half.

Duke's efficiency from the field was the result of the Blue Devils' focus on establishing a post presence early in the game and then returning to it when they struggled, Goestenkors said.

"The sets that we were running offensively were all designed to really get the ball into our post players because we knew we had the size advantage," Goestenkors said.

Capitalizing on its interior advantage became even more of a priority as the game progressed, especially with Monique Currie struggling.

The National Player of the Year candidate shot 1-for-9 from the floor. With only two points, Currie posted the worst offensive output of her career.

In contrast, Williams, who contributed 16 points and 8 rebounds, shot well over her season average and carried the team.

"I think that's the mark of a great team, when you don't need to rely on one player," Goestenkors said. "We always have other players that can step forward."

In the backcourt, Abby Waner picked up some of the offensive slack for the struggling Currie with 14 points. But Duke also looked to some of the players deeper on its bench to boost its second-half run.

Senior Jessica Foley single-handedly extended the Duke lead by eight to 75-56 late in the second half. Despite being fouled, Foley hit a deep three while falling to the floor. She converted her free-throw attempt and scored on the next two possessions.

In addition, reserves Emily Waner and Laura Kurz, who have been averaging only 0.8 and 3.3 points, respectively, in ACC play, made significant contributions. Kurz had five points, while Emily Waner added seven.

"We've been emphasizing all year our depth," Abby Waner said. "The whole team was trying to help Monique through the game, whether it's Monique or Mistie or Emily or whoever, I think that's just the way our team is."

Discussion

Share and discuss “Second-half spurt lifts Duke past Virginia” on social media.