Women's Basketball team buries Huskies with 2nd-half run

After overwhelming teams in their exhibition games, the sixth-ranked Blue Devils opened their season in similar fashion with a 102-49 victory over Northeastern Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke struggled at times in the first half, but the Blue Devils regained their focus and came out with renewed intensity after halftime. Duke scored 15 unanswered points in the first five minutes of the second half, with freshman Bridgette Mitchell scoring six of her 18 total points in that interval.

The Huskies eventually answered Duke's offensive surge, but the Blue Devils were already out of reach. During the second half, Duke's shooting improved dramatically-the team hit half of its attempts from three-point range-and it outscored the Huskies, 59-27.

"We played better in the second half," head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "In the first half we were just missing wide open shots."

Missed layups plagued the Blue Devils in the first half, as the team only shot 36.8 percent from the field in the period. In only the second-ever matchup in the two schools' history, the Huskies played aggressively from the start and forced a series of Duke mistakes.

"They came out ready to play, and they weren't intimidated," Goestenkors said. "I was disappointed in our first-half effort, really on both ends of the floor."

With its scoring woes limiting the team to just 43 first-half points, Duke relied on its defensive pressure to prevent the Huskies from keeping the contest close. The Blue Devils forced 20 Northeastern turnovers in the first half, converting them into 18 points.

"We're always going to rely on our defense," Goestenkors said. "Getting those steals, getting on the fast break... that's the style that our team really enjoys, and the crowd loves it as well."

Duke's offensive efforts were anchored by 16-point performances from sophomores Carrem Gay and Abby Waner. After sitting out portions of last season due to injuries, Gay has fully recovered. Her 16 points were a career high, and she also added six rebounds and two steals in the game.

The second half also saw more playing time from the bench, which had a total of 28 minutes on the court in the first half. The opportunity allowed for more scoring chances, with Mitchell, Joy Cheek and Brittany Mitch scoring 18, 12 and 10 points, respectively.

After earning two straight double-doubles in the exhibition games, senior Alison Bales could not break double digits in points against Northeastern's aggressive interior defense. Goestenkors said Bales' performance was not indicative of the senior's previous play.

"We took time with our post players before this game and told them they have to be more aggressive," Northeastern head coach Daynia La-Force Mann said. "They have to stay active around Bales."

The Blue Devils will continue their season against Marist November 17 at 7 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium.


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