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Blue Devils travel to Boston College

After dropping two of three in its most recent homestand, Duke hits the road tonight looking for success against ACC foe Boston College.

The eleventh-ranked Blue Devils (16-6, 5-2 in the ACC) are fresh off a loss at the hands of rival North Carolina and enter tonight's matchup tied with the Eagles (17-5, 5-2) for fourth in the conference.

In their loss to UNC, the Blue Devils felt they were unable to play their game, allowing the Tar Heels to dictate a faster pace.

By letting North Carolina run, Duke was unable to solidify its presence in the halfcourt set, particularly in the post.

"We have to go where our strengths are," head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "The reality is that we have to work from the inside out."

In addition to leading scorer and rebounder Chante Black, the Blue Devils have been looking to their forwards off the bench in recent conference games. Against Virginia Tech Feb. 1, sophomore Joy Cheek led all scorers with 14 points in a game where all 12 players scored and the bench accounted for 35 of the team's 50 rebounds.

Monday against the Tar Heels, however, Cheek struggled in scoring just three points in 24 minutes.

"I have to refocus," Cheek said. "I'm smarter than how I have been playing. It's February, not November."

On the other side of the floor, Duke had a hard time containing North Carolina in its biggest home loss to its rival in 15 years.

McCallie said her players made too many mental mistakes and that they all need to play with more focus and energy tonight to win.

"It doesn't all have to come from one person," McCallie said. "We need to work together."

For the Blue Devils, a stronger performance in the frontcourt, particularly on the boards, could help them break out of their recent funk.

"We need to be in attack mode all the time," Cheek said. "We need a fighting mentality for forty minutes."

Cheek, along with the other Duke forwards, faces a battle against Boston College's young but powerful post players.

The Eagles' freshman duo of Stefanie Murphy and Carolyn Swords measure at 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-6, respectively, and combine for 16.2 rebounds per game.

To counter that strong post play from Swords and Murphy, Duke plans to set a fast-paced tempo to take advantage of their superiority in the transition game.

"We want to speed up Boston College and play a faster, more athletic game," McCallie said. "If we are playing halfcourt, it favors them without question."

Despite its recent losses, Duke hopes to emerge strongly from its tough schedule and start performing at the level at which it believes itself capable.

"We know we have the ability to make it to [the Final Four] and the ability to win the ACC Tournament," Cheek said. "We just have to get out there and do it every night."

Both Boston College's size and the nature of the recent loss to North Carolina may contribute to a shake-up of the starting five, which has been static in recent weeks.

"You don't change your line-up because you lose all the time. We'll see with this one," McCallie said. "Losing by 17 at home is severe, and we will look at that."


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