Entering the contest with a lowly 1-7 conference record, the Blue Devils found success against a foe they have dominated of late.
Duke defeated Pittsburgh, 74-55, in an initially back-and-forth game Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils had a slow start but came back by the end of the first half and held that momentum until the end, extending their win streak against the Panthers to 10.
After a nail-biting contest with Boston College—one that brought season or career highs for numerous players—redshirt junior Haley Gorecki and freshman Miela Goodchild stood out Sunday. Goodchild delivered as the contest's leading scorer with 20 points, while Gorecki finished off with the eighth triple-double in Duke women’s basketball history.
“I’d like to know who has played 50 minutes and then followed the next game with a triple-double,” said head coach Joanne P. McCallie. “That might be an extraordinary stat to look at. I was concerned for Haley in terms of body and banging and I thought that she really handled that well.”
The contest started off with a bucket by Pittsburgh’s Cara Judkins, but the Blue Devils quickly responded with a layup by Jade Williams. The teams went back and forth to make attempts at the basket, but the score remained at 2-2 for the first three minutes of the game.
It was a sloppy start for both Duke and the Panthers, as the players struggled finishing their shots.
The teams continued to trade off taking the lead, but after some more effective 3-point shooting by Pittsburgh’s Cassidy Walsh, the Panthers ended the first quarter with a two-point lead over the Blue Devils (10-11, 2-7 in the ACC).
Within seconds of the start of second quarter, Walsh continued to prove herself effective beyond the arc, making a 3-point look for the opposition. Pittsburgh (9-14, 0-9) dominated up through halfway into the second quarter, until a much-needed shot beyond the arc by Gorecki tied the teams up.
Duke came back on top after seven minutes of losing the lead and would never look back Shooting picked up a lot more in the latter half of the second quarter, and the Blue Devils put up a streak of eight successful shots over the Panthers.
Three-point shooting became more notable for the Blue Devils, as Goodchild went 4-for-6 in the first half, putting the Blue Devils up to an overall 55.6 shooting percentage from deep. Overall, Duke went into the locker room at the end of the half with a more promising nine-point lead.
“Miela gets on herself so I know her frustration’s on her shot, but seeing the ball go in is one of the best things for a shooter,” said Gorecki. “When she’s knocking them down, I’m happy for her.”
Coming back out onto the court, the Panthers proved their spirits were not at all beat, and Walsh kicked off the second half with another triple. However, just like the opening period, the second half also began with a very slow start as the Blue Devils lost the momentum they had gained right before halftime.
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Within six minutes of the third quarter, Duke only put up two points while Pittsburgh fought back with eight points of their own, cutting the deficit to three. After the Blue Devils missed eight shots in a row, Odom came through and broke Duke’s four-minute silence, with a lay-up followed by a free throw.
The Blue Devils quickly picked up the pace in the latter minutes of the third quarter, and the tables were turned as they held the Panthers down from shooting for almost six minutes.
“I think the players just stepped it up. I liked our poise I thought we had both offensive and defensive poise when that lead was cut, and we were able to drive it the other way and drive it hard which is important,” said McCallie. “When you can drive it hard you need to separate and that was a really good separation of execution on both sides of the ball.”
Going into the final quarter of the contest, Duke had a 12-point lead against Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils continued to control the court, and Williams put up some good shots. However, the Panthers kept on fighting, cutting Duke’s lead down to seven points. But the Blue Devils were even stronger, closing the game out with a 17-point edge.
The Blue Devils have a big game up ahead, as they will look to travel to Chapel Hill next as they take on the Tobacco Road rivals. In the next coming weeks, Duke will play four out of five games away from home.
“Records or anything else is not of our interest right now, the only interest we have is that we need to be better on Thursday than we were today,” said McCallie. “We need to get after it and be better and take it out on the road again, it will be good for us to do that. It’s a process.”