Coming off a six-point defeat on the hands of Virginia, the Blue Devils matched up with a different Virginia school and looked to notch its fourth conference victory of the season.
But in the end, Virginia Tech walked away with a 64-57 victory Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Redshirt junior Haley Gorecki led the stagnant Blue Devil offense with 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting. The junior guard also shot 3-for-5 from long range in the defeat.
“Haley is my favorite player to watch. The little nuances that she has, getting open, catching the ball. She plays at her own pace,” Virginia Tech head coach Kenny Brooks said. “I would pay to watch her play. She kind of reminds me of a Steph Curry.”
But at the same time, Duke shot 22-of-58 for 37.9 percent in the game and 6-of-12 from 3-point range.
“Very disappointing game for us,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “The heart and hustle, the spirit it takes to get a loose ball is what loss that game for us.”
Virginia Tech (16-8, 3-8 in the ACC) won the rebounding battle 41-31 and Regan Magarity finished the game with 22 points and 18 points. The Hokies scored 12 second-chance points while the Blue Devils (11-13, 3-9) were held without one in that category.
“[Magarity] had 10 points on second shots. That’s the game. It’s just not that hard,” McCallie said. “We have a player on their team who got five offensive rebounds and put them all back in. That’s 10 points. Take that off the top, that’s 54.”
Scoring came at a premium in the opening few minutes. Gorecki drove through the lane and scored to jumpstart the team’s offensive output. Although Virginia Tech was held without a basket until the 6:29 mark of the quarter. Out of the media timeout break, Gorecki drilled a 3-pointer and then after a Hokie turnover, she knocked down her second triple in as many possessions to give the Blue Devils the 12-5 advantage. Then after an offensive rebound, Virginia Tech’s Rachel Camp knotted the score at 12 apiece, which capped off the road team’s 7-0 run.
At the end of the opening quarter, Gorecki had 10 of the team’s 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field.
While the first quarter belonged to Gorecki, it was junior Leaonna Odom’s turn to take control in the opening minute as she scored the first four points for the Blue Devils in the second frame. But after those baskets and a layup in the paint from sophomore Jade Williams, Duke went on to miss its next nine shots and remained scoreless for 7:16 as Virginia Tech proceeded to take advantage. The Blue Devils were forced to call a timeout after an 11-0 Hokie run put Duke in a seven-point deficit.
Freshman Miela Goodchild ended the scoring drought with a triple off an assist by Odom and Gorecki nailed her third 3-pointer as the clock wound down to cut the halftime deficit to only three points.
At halftime, Gorecki led the team in scoring with 13 points as well as rebounding with four boards. But overall as the team, Duke did not shoot very well. The long scoring drought contributed to the Blue Devils’ 34.5 percent shooting.
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The third quarter shared a resemblance to much of the second quarter with Duke’s baskets not falling often. After Gorecki cut the Hokie lead to four with a jump shot 77 seconds into the half, the Blue Devils did not score again until the 4:08 when Gorecki was fouled after converting a layup. After the lead was cut to four, Virginia Tech closed out the quarter with a six-point advantage.
The Blue Devils got out to a fast start and cut the Hokie lead to four. But after a turnover, Virginia Tech’s Taylor Emery knocked down a corner triple. The Hokies then extended the lead to nine points with under five minutes remaining, a deficit that Duke was unable to overcome.
To close out the game, the Blue Devils missed eight shots in a row before Gorecki scored to cut the lead to seven. Duke pressed after the inbounds pass and forced to Virginia Tech to call a timeout. After another Hokie timeout and three Blue Devil fouls, Virginia Tech’s Emery knocked down a pair from the charity stripe to put her team up nine, which led to Duke calling its final timeout with 33.7 seconds left.
Goodchild hit a deep triple that bounced a few times on the rim before hitting the net to cut the deficit to six. But after free throws were traded with layups, Duke could not recover and ended up losing the conference battle by seven as sophomore Jayda Adams hit a triple with one second remaining.
“It really felt in the last quarter, there were some great time and score situations. Forcing timeouts is so important,” McCallie said. “Haley had a great drive. There was a bomb three by Miela and another one by Jayda.”
Duke will look to get back into the win column against No. 6 Notre Dame next Thursday night. In order to notch a win on the road against the reigning national champions, the Blue Devils will need to first shore up their rebounding and turn their 10-board deficit upside down.
“This is so disappointing to have a team that does not pursue the ball. I’m talking strictly rebounds here,” McCallie said. “Go get the ball. Go get it, limit them, do not let them have second chance opportunities. It’s how bad do you want it. How bad do you want it? And it’s got to show up from a team point of view.”