With the season winding to a close and some late, historic heroics needed to push the Blue Devils to post season play, Duke knows it is still taking things game by game, and it can never hurt to get some revenge in the process.
The Blue Devils will get that opportunity Sunday when they travel to play Wake Forest at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The two teams met earlier this January in Durham, with Duke securing a 66-52 win behind a strong finish from the hosts. The team still knows that there’s a lot to improve upon from that first matchup.
“We only played one good quarter in my opinion [in the previous matchup] and that was the fourth quarter,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We really had three quarters of back and forth, not great post defense, lost a couple shooters. Just, generally wasn’t as intense of a game as we needed for 40 minutes.”
It hasn’t been an easy season for McCallie and her young team thus far, again displayed in their blowout loss to No. 1 Notre Dame. There are many lessons to take away, however, from matching up with top competition day in and day out that can be used in future seasons.
“Really focusing on the work that we did that was good,” McCallie said. “It was good no matter who we were playing, especially a team of that level. Then trying to take that with us into the next game on Sunday.”
The Blue Devils (11-14, 3-10 in the ACC) have dominated the all-time series with Wake Forest, but most impressively have won 21 of the last 22 meetings in Winston-Salem, as well as a 19-2 record for McCallie against the Demon Deacons.
Wake Forest (10-16, 1-12) comes into Sunday’s contest ranked 318th in the country with just under 20 turnovers per game. It doesn’t get much prettier for their defense either, as the ACC bottom feeders rank 325th in turnovers forced. It seems like a prime opportunity for Duke to speed up the game, but McCallie insists they’ll stick to the pace they want to play.
“We want to play our pace,” McCallie emphasized. “We definitely want transition. We got transition on them last time, and we want to push the tempo when we can. They tend to stall a little bit and use the whole shot clock, so it’ll be important for us to set up and make them defend us.”
The Demon Deacons will be led by a trio of double-digit scorers, including Ivana Raca, who led the team in scoring in their first outing against Duke and in their only ACC win against Virginia. Italian forward Elisa Penna will also be key, as she leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per contest.
Then with all road games complete for the squad, the Blue Devils will return to Cameron Indoor Stadium, where they are 7-2 against unranked teams for the season. They’ll get a chance to improve that record as they welcome Clemson and North Carolina, who they beat in the first leg of the rivalry 85-69.
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