Following an extended, two-week final exam break, Duke traveled west looking for its first win against a ranked team on the year.
But No. 11 Oregon State was simply too much to handle, defeating the Blue Devils 71-57 Thursday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore. An upset looked like a distinct possibility as the game began, with Duke leading for the majority of the first quarter. However, the Beavers quickly used their greatest weapon—outside shooting—to put the contest to bed, squandering the Blue Devils’ last opportunity at a major nonconference victory.
“I was really proud of our team...especially at the start to come off and start the way we did after not playing a game in forever—I thought [that] was an excellent show of poise,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie told GoDuke.com. “Oregon state is a terrific team. Obviously in the second-half they made some deep threes that were rather impressive.... If they are hitting those shots all the time that is going to be something hard for a lot of people to guard.”
Overall, the Beavers (9-2)—which rank ninth in the country in triples per game and third in 3-point percentage—knocked down 14 of their 29 attempts from downtown, while Duke made a season-low one 3-pointer on the night. Oregon State also posted 18 assists to the Blue Devils’ six, exhibiting an unselfish style of play that is always looking for the open shooter.
The leader of that Beavers offense was point guard Destiny Slocum, who poured in a game-high 21 points while shooting 8-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Duke (6-4) was led by guard Haley Gorecki and forward Leaonna Odom. Gorecki notched her third career double-double with 18 points and a career-high 11 rebounds, while Odom added 17 points of her own including 13 in the second half. Redshirt freshman Mikayla Boykin also impressed in just her second game back from ACL surgery, notching 10 points and six rebounds in a career-high 37 minutes.
“I thought our leadership definitely came from [Gorecki],” McCallie said. “[Gorecki] committed to rebounding and...she pulled some big boards. I thought [Boykin] led nicely [and I thought [Odom’s] second half was good.”
The first quarter was all about the Blue Devils’ defense, which held Oregon State’s 21st-ranked offense scoreless in the first five minutes en route to a 9-0 Duke advantage. But the Beavers slowly inched their way back, and a 13-4 run following a media timeout tied the score at 15 heading into the second period.
Both teams stayed close for much of the second-quarter, with Oregon State holding a narrow 27-25 edge with just under three minutes remaining in the half. But a prompt 5-0 run by the Beavers sent them into the locker room with their biggest lead of the game at 32-25, and they didn’t stop there.
Oregon State came out firing in the second-half, hitting its first two threes to blow the game open. The Beavers finished the quarter on a 13-5 run, leading 53-39 with 10 minutes remaining.
“It was a good start for us,” Gorecki told GoDuke.com. “I think we had good momentum, we got easy shots, we got good looks and we made our shots. But then—as Coach P said—they knocked down their shots, so it got us out of our groove.”
The Blue Devils would cut their deficit down to eight with 2:38 left, but a huge four-point play from Oregon State guard Kat Tudor stretched the Beavers’ lead back to double-digits, where it would stay for the remainder of the contest.
Despite the loss, Duke did show some hope for the future during its trip to the Beaver State. The Blue Devils posted a season-low 13 turnovers on the night, an impressive feat considering they were playing in front of by far their largest crowd of the year at 7,060.
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“It was a great environment,” McCallie said. “[I] really [loved] the environment—a lot of fans. It was great just growing up our team a little bit.”
Next, Duke will return to Cameron Indoor Stadium to battle East Carolina Dec. 28 at 7 p.m., one of its final two nonconference opponents before ACC play begins with No. 10 N.C. State Jan. 3.