Stanford 71-55, END OF GAME: That's a wrap from Palo Alto as the Blue Devils drop to 7-2.
Stanford 65-50, SECOND HALF 3:15 remaining: That comeback was fun while it lasted. Ogwumike hit two free throws to give the Cardinal a double-digit lead once more and got a putback on the next possession. After that, Selby's three barely rimmed out and Jasmine Thomas was lazy getting to the rebound, allowing Pedersen to run coast-to-coast for an easy layup. The referees appear to have finally let the players play, but it's too late now.
Stanford 59-45, SECOND HALF 6:05 remaining: The Blue Devils got within eight again, but two straight threes (barely contested, at that) and a whole lot of Duke turnovers appear to have blown the game open for Stanford. And I apologize for raving about Vernerey earlier - she has yet to score since those two early buckets and has missed A LOT of shots in that span.
Meanwhile, this crowd loves to hate Christmas. The junior went for a regular steal, but caused some contact for Ogwumike, drawing some loud jeers at the Maples Pavilion.
Stanford 52-42, SECOND HALF 7:46 remaining: Duke is being forced to play soft on defense due to foul trouble, and the referees aren't making it easy on them, calling a lot of hand check fouls. On the bright side, the offense is finally clicking, as Jasmine Thomas and Cheek hit 3-pointers to bring the Blue Devils within eight. The press is also working, forcing Stanford into turnovers in the backcourt. But Duke has to take care of the ball, as a careless pass by Jackson gives the Cardinal a chance to maintain control of the game.
Another hand check call puts the Blue Devils in the double bonus with over seven minutes remaining.
Stanford 48-33, SECOND HALF 11:35 remaining: Duke had gotten the lead down to single digits after a Shay Selby 3-pointer and a Christmas jumper and some success with the full-court press, but Stanford responded with a quick 6-0 run, punctuated by a wide-open layup from Ogwumike. The Blue Devils are still hustling, but they need to get some stops.
Stanford 42-28, SECOND HALF 13:50 remaining: Just when Cheek and the Blue Devils started to find a rhythm on offense, the senior picked up her fourth foul of the night on a dubious call against Appel. McCallie might want to consider keeping her in the game, because if Duke can't close the gap now, it won't make a difference when Cheek finally re-enters.
Stanford 42-23, SECOND HALF 15:51 remaining: The Blue Devils battled back from a 17-point deficit last year in California in December, but that was against a much less impressive USC team who just happened to have a hot-shooting streak. Fouls are killing Duke as the referees are calling a very tight game and the Blue Devils fave failed to adapt.
Duke: 23.7% FG, 11.1% 3-PT FG, 9 turnovers, 23 rebounds
Stanford: 51.9% FG, 50% 3-PT FG, 10 turnovers, 20 rebounds
MORE HALFTIME: Interesting halftime entertainment here at the Maples Pavilion as members of the football team test their skills in other sports. First, six players attempted to make a 45-foot putt from the baseline to half court. A lot of decently good putters on the Cardinal, but none of them made it.
Now, halfcourt shots. It doesn't look like too many of these players practice this shot a lot, because they're falling well short. Gerhart, in particular, didn't even come close, but hey - he's already a two-sport athlete.
HALFTIME: Biggest cheer of the night is reserved for Toby Gerhart, Stanford's senior running back and a Heisman Trophy finalist. The crowd seems to think he was snubbed, and safety Bo McNally just called him the "real winner of the Heisman Trophy."
Stanford 39-23, END OF FIRST HALF: Not the finish Duke was hoping for. A three-point play by JJ Hones gives the Cardinal a 16-point lead, but Vernerey did manage to secure a held ball with Appel to give the Blue Devils possession for the start of the second half.
Stanford 36-23, FIRST HALF 58.1 seconds remaining: The Blue Devils have finally scored, but need to make a run in this final minute to keep the deficit manageable heading into halftime. Duke's defense has tightened up, specifically Krystal Thomas' work inside on Appel, but the Blue Devils just need to take smarter shots to close the gap.
Stanford 34-17, FIRST HALF 3:41 remaining: Kayla Pedersen hits her second three of the night and the Cardinal are on a 17-0 run. McCallie is substituting liberally, but can't find the right lineup of players to score the ball. We're seeing a lot of sophomore Chelsea Hopkins at the point, which is odd since Jasmine Thomas has been so successful running the point this season. The best offensive lineup would seemingly include Vernerey, Jasmine Thomas, Bridgette Mitchell, Christmas and Cheek. But Cheek is out with three fouls and Duke is favoring a defensive lineup with Keturah Jackson in the backcourt as Stanford adds to its advantage.
Stanford 27-17, FIRST HALF 4:35 remaining: Yet another empty possession for the Blue Devils, who have managed just four points in the last eight minutes. Stanford just opened up a double-digit lead on a putback from Ogwumike, and Christmas isn't too happy about it. The junior just leveled Ogwumike and the officials are currently discussing what the call should be.
That was an intentional foul on Christmas for Duke's ninth team foul, compared to ONE for the Cardinal. Ogwumike at the line to extend the lead for Stanford.
Stanford 19-17, FIRST HALF 7:08 remaining: Duke is dominating possession and getting lots of looks at the basket, but can't get anything to fall. Vernerey, Christmas and Krystal Thomas keep getting offensive rebounds but can't compensate for poor shot selection. Meanwhile, Nnemkadi Ogwumike just scored for Stanford on the slowest fast break I have ever seen. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie can't be pleased with how slow her team was to get back on defense.
TIE 15-15 FIRST HALF, 11:40 remaining: If you're a Duke fan, you have to love what you're seeing out of the freshman Vernerey so far. She has put up four points already for the Blue Devils and Appel is clearly frustrated by her presence as Vernerey just denied the entry pass on the last Cardinal possession. But Duke is have difficulty taking care of the ball, preventing the team from building a lead despite strong defense.
Stanford 8-4, FIRST HALF 15:56 remaining: Jayne Appel is having her way inside against Krystal Thomas and Joy Cheek - who just picked up two quick fouls - so expect to see freshman Allison Vernerey enter the game soon for the Blue Devils. Not much clicking on offense yet for Duke, but other than Jasmine Thomas, the team's best scorers are on the bench.
PREGAME: I'm here at the Maples Pavilion in Palo Alto, CA for the second half of today's Duke Basketball doubleheader as the No. 7 Blue Devils take on No. 2 Stanford in their biggest road game of the young season. The Duke men won easily over Gardner-Webb 113-68 behind a career day from Jon Scheyer, but the women figure to face a stiffer test from the Lady Cardinal. Duke narrowly defeated Stanford at Cameron Indoor Stadium 56-52 last December, buoyed by a stellar performance from Karima Christmas.
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