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Blue Devils struggle through 1st round win

GREENSBORO -- The Blue Devils entered the ACC Tournament Friday determined to redeem themselves for the regular season title they lost to North Carolina. But first round opponent Virginia Tech was not willing to go down without a fight.

While Duke (26-2) led the entire game on its way to a 69-56 victory over the Hokies (20-9), the team struggled throughout the game. Registering a season-high 31 turnovers and a season-low nine assists, Duke never established a rhythm.

"We were all trying to make something happen," freshman Abby Waner said. "We were trying to make it be a great game for us, and you can't make a game like that. You have to let it come to you."

The game featured sloppy passes, miscommunications and an all-around lack of cohesiveness from both teams. Seven minutes into the game, Wanisha Smith was leading a fast break and passed the ball over the head of 6-foot-5 Chante Black and into the crowd. The error would set the tone for the rest of the contest.

As the turnovers piled up for Duke, Virginia Tech capitalized on opportunities it was not afforded in its previous matchup against the Blue Devils, a 42-point blowout loss just nine days before. This time around the Hokies poured in 23 of their 56 points off Duke's mistakes.

"Obviously, we've got to do a better job taking care of the basketball," Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "I'm not quite sure why we're turning the ball over more now.... I don't think we're quite as focused as we need to be."

When the players did not turn the ball over, though, they were successful shooting it. The team shot 54.3 percent from the field with impressive efficiency from Mistie Williams and Carrem Gay, who shot a combined 7-for-8. Monique Currie pitched in 13 points, bringing her career total to 2005, the third player in Duke history to eclipse 2,000 points.

With one game of the ACC Tournament under their belt, the Blue Devils must look ahead to the third-seeded Maryland Terrapins. The team will do its best not to allow Friday's poor performance to affect its play in the semifinals.

"You can't really worry about it," senior guard Lindsey Harding said. "This was a game that we all-not just one person-we all just didn't play our game. And when that happens, the result is [Friday's game]. I'm not really worried about it, we've just got to move on."


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