HALFTIME: Mississippi State 28, Duke 24

After a premature end to their season at home in the Round of 32 last season, the Blue Devils are doing everything in their power to prevent a repeat.

At the half, fourth-seeded Duke trails fifth-seeded Mississippi State 28-24 at Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Blue Devils look to secure their spot in the Sweet 16. Freshman Azura Stevens led Duke in the first half with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Duke got out to a hot start, scoring four unanswered points before the Bulldogs’ guard Dominique Dillingham drained a three from the corner nearly three minutes into the game. The Blue Devils’ stout defense left Mississippi State scoreless from the paint in the first 10 minutes of the half, but the Bulldogs went 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in that stretch.

A four minute scoring Duke drought in the middle of the half allowed Mississippi State to hang tight, but sophomore Kendall Cooper broke the dry spell with a beautiful cut to the basket on which she was fouled. She converted the three-point play and spurred momentum for a Blue Devil comeback. An easy layup from Stevens tied the game with 4:35 remaining in the half and a trey from redshirt freshman Rebecca Greenwell regained the Duke lead. The Bulldogs quickly responded with a three of their own, and the two teams went into the final media timeout of the period tied at 21 apiece.

Despite a quick layup from Elizabeth Williams, the momentum was in Mississippi State’s favor as the Bulldogs retaliated with back-to-back jumpers. Freshman Victoria Vivians ended the half by connecting from deep with five seconds remaining.

The much-anticipated matchup between Williams and Mississippi State center Martha Alwal has not disappointed. Alwal made her presence known early on, stuffing Williams on her first drive to the basket. The Virginia Beach, Va., native found her footing after the first media timeout and powered past the 6-foot-4 senior for her first two points of the contest. Williams and the Blue Devils' post defense held Alwal to just two points and a single rebound. After posting nine blocks against Albany, Williams had no blocks in the first 20 minutes of play—Alwal finished the half with three.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • Duke shot 55.6 percent from the floor, even without hot shooting from Rebecca Greenwell, who finished with three points on just one shot.

  • The Blue Devils committed 14 turnovers in the first period.

  • Half of Mississippi State’s points came from converting off of Duke turnovers.

  • 14 of the Blue Devils’ points came in the paint.


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