Terrapins await Duke squad fresh off FSU win

Seven minutes into the first half of Friday night's game against Florida State, Duke's starting backcourt of Abby Waner, Wanisha Smith and Jasmine Thomas was uncharacteristically quiet.

The trio, which entered the game averaging 27.6 points per contest, had managed just two on 1-for-8 shooting. Against a Seminole offense that had been productive all season, the Blue Devils could have easily found themselves in a deep deficit to start the game.

Instead, at the 13-minute mark, Duke led 12-8, riding on the shoulders of its dominant center and leading scorer, Chante Black.

Black began the game on a tear, scoring 10 consecutive points for the Blue Devils after Thomas' opening jumper. The junior individually outscored Florida State in that span, prompting the Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd to yell, "Chante's winning!"

The center scored her first 10 points in the paint, going hard at the Seminoles' defense and attacking 6-foot-4 Jacinta Monroe with ease. She sank five of her first six shots, rebounding her only miss to put it back for an easy bucket.

Although Black only scored four points in the second half, mostly a result of playing fewer minutes as the game slipped out of the Seminoles' reach, she still finished the game with 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting.

"Incredible," Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said of Black's play. "She was not only a dominant scorer, but she was a dominant rebounder. She is a force-one of the best post players in the ACC."

Just as they did against the Seminoles, the Blue Devils need Black to be at her best when they travel to College Park tonight to face Maryland (19-1, 3-0 in the ACC) at 7 p.m.

If Duke is to pull off the first major road upset of head coach Joanne P. McCallie's Blue Devil career, it will have to come from the strong play of its maturing frontcourt, particularly on defense. The No. 4 Terrapins boast one of the most productive frontcourt tandems in the conference in seniors Laura Harper and Crystal Langhorne, who combine for 28.4 points and 16.7 rebounds per contest.

"They do have some of the best post players, not only the conference but in the U.S.," Black said of Maryland. "Hopefully, we'll just continue to carry over what we've been doing. That's our focus-to always shut down those players."

Friday night, Duke put its solid interior defense on display, with Carrem Gay adding seven steals, four defensive rebounds and a block to complement Black's play.

Black's defense in the paint, including four blocks on the night, frustrated Florida State, and the Blue Devils' collective press forced the Seminoles to shoot a season-low 23.4 percent from the field. Tonight, Duke needs to be on its game again-and early, as it was against the Seminoles-to have a legitimate shot at taking down a Terrapin squad that averages over 82 points per contest.

"The first 10 minutes were excruciatingly intense from our standpoint [defensively], causing a lot of missed shots," McCallie said of Friday's opening half. "The tone was set and then regardless of who we put in, they followed suit."

One of Duke's biggest struggles this season has been with consistency, and with this weekend's quick turnaround and in front of a hostile ACC crowd, the team faces one of its greatest challenges yet.

Having taken seven in a row, the Blue Devils have been setting a winning tone, and they hope a victory tonight will follow suit.


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