A number of streaks came to an end Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but Duke's skid to begin its ACC slate was not one of them.
N.C. State used timely basket after timely basket to upset No. 22 Duke 65-62 Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Wolfpack knocked down 10 3-pointers—including four apiece from Jennifer Mathurin and Ashley Williams—to give the visitors their first win at Duke in 20 years and drop the Blue Devils into a 1-3 hole to start conference play.
Duke had won 152 straight home games against unranked opponents, but N.C. State's 30 points off of 21 Blue Devil turnovers denied Duke a chance to pull out a win, despite a valiant comeback effort.
"When it’s a possession basketball game, details are very important," Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "If you’re looking at the stats and you’re technical, it comes to turnovers per game. If it’s a possession basketball game and they have 13 and we have 21, that’s a little bit of a problem, and I think our team is learning how to be on the same page with each other and to work together as a team."
The lead see-sawed back and forth in the final quarter, with the Blue Devils (12-6, 1-3 in the ACC) grabbing a 55-53 lead on a post move by sophomore forward Azurá Stevens, who initiated the play serving as a 6-foot-6 ball-handler. But Williams responded with her fourth 3-pointer of the game to put N.C. State (13-5, 4-1) right back in front. Dominique Wilson extended the lead to three with a pair of free throws—her first points of the half—after drawing the fourth foul on Stevens, forcing the Blue Devil star to the bench with 3:00 left.
With Stevens sidelined, N.C. State secured multiple offensive rebounds as the clock ticked under a minute to play, then capitalized as Mathurin snuck behind freshman Kyra Lambert along the baseline to extend the Wolfpack lead to 60-57 with less than a minute to play. Duke won the rebounding battle 34-28, but key boards by Wilson and Miah Spencer —two of the smallest players on the floor—allowed N.C. State to bleed 83 seconds off the clock before adding the insurance points.
"You've got to rebound. I can’t stop the game [to get Stevens back in]," McCallie said. "I don’t want to see anybody in foul trouble, but that’s just the way it went. You have to credit the hustle of the other team. They got all the boards and reset, and they were patient with the basketball."
Lambert responded with a driving lay-up and added a pull-up 3-pointer after N.C. State made 3-of-4 from the line, but Angela Salvadores' game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the rim, sending the Wolfpack bench streaming onto the bench in celebration.
One streak that did not end Thursday—Duke's string of turnover-filled contests. For the seventh straight contest, the Blue Devils turned it over at least 17 times. The giveaways against the Wolfpack were particularly costly, as they allowed N.C. State to score nearly half of its points.
At times throughout the game, Duke seemed ready to turn the game around, but each time a series of giveaways or defensive lapses enabled the Wolfpack to jump back in front.
"We realized that at the end, stops really mattered," Stevens said. "Every possession counts and you've got to get stops. That's just another thing that we'll learn from."
Still in search of a cohesive starting lineup, McCallie gave guard Mercedes Riggs the starting nod Thursday, meaning every Blue Devil on the roster has now started at least one game this season.
Riggs did not attempt a shot in her six first-half minutes, but her backcourt mate, Lambert, came out aggressively. The freshman floor general hit a pull-up jumper, knocked down a long two-pointer and completed an old-fashioned 3-point play in the first quarter, giving her seven of the first nine Duke points.
But instead of building a lead, Lambert's early efforts were simply keeping the Blue Devils afloat. The Wolfpack knocked down all four of their attempts from behind the arc in the first quarter—three of them courtesy of Jennifer Mathurin—and built a 21-17 lead by the end of the period.
The deficit would have been more, if not for Salvadores, who hit a pair of contested 3-pointers, including one that just beat the first-quarter buzzer. Mathurin picked up her second foul on a charge late in the period and sat for much of the second quarter. But Wilson poured in 14 points—just below her season average—by halftime to keep N.C. State in front.
Stevens tied the game at the free throw line and earned the Blue Devils an extra possession by corralling her own miss, but back-to-back turnovers kept Duke from retaking the lead, and the Wolfpack scored the last four points of the half to go up 34-30 at intermission.
Undeterred, Stevens scored the first five points of the third quarter, giving the Blue Devils their first lead since 4-3. But it did not last.
The Wolfpack hit two more 3-pointers amidst an 8-0 spurt to put themselves back in front, and Mathurin answered a Salvadores trey with yet another triple.
But then the Blue Devils buckled down on the defensive end. N.C. State missed seven of its final eight shots in the third quarter, as Duke extended pressure into the backcourt and used a 7-0 run to grab back the lead heading into the final 10 minutes. Freshman Crystal Primm capped the spurt with a shifty drive and scoop shot in the closing seconds, but the lead did not stick.
"I think it's the greatest conference, but you better come ready every night. There's always players that can play, and I think we know that," McCallie said. "I liked our fight. I wish we had our fight in some of our other games. I liked our fight tonight, I liked how we executed, we had some great plays. We scored on baseline out of bounds three times.... There were some really good things, but you have an end result and you have to learn from it."
The Blue Devils return to Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday afternoon to take on Boston College.
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