Despite owning one of the top backcourts in the country, Duke showed it still has a lot to prove before it can join the conversation as one of the country’s elite teams Sunday.
The No. 13 Blue Devils’ 10-game winning streak came to an end Sunday with a 69-45 loss to No. 6 Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee, Fla., as Duke wrapped up a two-game road trip with its first defeat since Nov. 20 at Vanderbilt.
“I thought Florida State did a great job of defending,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said at the postgame press conference. “We rushed some shots that we probably need to slow down and execute more, but you definitely have to give them credit for the way they played.”
The Blue Devils (14-2, 2-1 in the ACC) shot a season-low 25.4 percent from the field and also set a new low for the year in points scored. The team failed to connect on a single 3-point attempt, missing all 11 shots it took from beyond the arc.
“You have to be able to respond to any situation,” McCallie said. “Some nights it feels like the ball can go in so easily and other nights it’s more difficult, and you’ve got to fight through those times. In my experience, you can’t make it through an NCAA tournament without a really hard game offensively.”
Duke's only lead of the game came at 2-0, as Florida State (15-2, 3-1) had a five-point advantage after a quarter of play and took a 26-15 lead into the halftime locker room. The Blue Devils never pulled closer than nine points in the second half, and the Seminoles put Duke away with a decisive 13-4 run spanning much of the third quarter.
Even with two of the top five scorers in the ACC—redshirt junior Rebecca Greenwell and junior Lexie Brown—each playing more than 30 minutes, the only Blue Devil to reach double figures was sophomore guard Kyra Lambert with 12 points. Greenwell and Brown combined for just 10 points on 2-of-15 shooting.
“I think they were just very aggressive on [Greenwell and me]. When we got rid of the ball they didn’t really make it easy for us to get it back,” Brown said. “I personally could have made better decisions with my passes and my decision-making, but that was the first time we’ve seen a defense like that and I think they did a really good job.”
One bright spot for Duke was its work on the boards and presence in the paint, keeping the rebounding deficit against an elite frontcourt respectable at 38-35. The Blue Devils also matched Florida State with 24 points in the paint.
Seminole forward Shakayla Thomas was ultimately too much for Duke's defense, though, finishing with a game-high 22 points and eight rebounds.
“This is the best Florida State team in the history of Florida State,” McCallie said. “They don’t get any better than this.”
Although the Blue Devils cleaned the glass fairly effectively, the Seminoles suffocated them with their defense. They only allowed four assists and forced 20 turnovers, which has been a frequent issue for Duke on the road this season, and scored 24 points off the giveaways.
Next up for the Blue Devils is a trip back to Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday for a matchup with in-state rival North Carolina, as Duke tries to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season.
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