GREENSBORO, N.C.—It didn’t seem like it was going to be that kind of night for Duke.
A night in which the team set a season-high with 12 made threes on 20 attempts. A night in which every time Pittsburgh even hinted at a comeback, a bullseye from deep shot those hopes to bed.
It didn’t seem like it coming off a 2-of-19 performance beyond the arc against North Carolina. And it certainly did not seem like it during the team shoot around, when it appeared nothing was going down.
“We were definitely worried,” senior forward Faith Suggs said regarding the Blue Devils’ warm-ups prior to the game. “There were a lot of frustration grunts coming from [junior guard Haley Gorecki] behind me every time she missed. And I was like ‘Oh this is going to be interesting.’”
And it was interesting, but not in the way Suggs predicted. Gorecki opened up the fireworks for Duke with a three to start off the game, and it did not end there. The Blue Devils hit four threes in the first quarter alone, powering their 16-13 edge after the first 10 minutes.
But Duke wasn’t the only team that could shoot Wednesday night. And after the Panthers missed all four of their attempts from deep in the opening period, it was their time to shine.
Pittsburgh nailed its first five 3-point shots of the second-quarter, a run headlined by senior guard Cassidy Walsh. The Pittsburgh native hit the team’s first two deep balls and finished the night with 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from downtown.
“[The Panthers] were just executing and playing good basketball,” Blue Devils head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “They were finding their shooters—as I recall some three balls were going up and in.”
Out of the locker rooms, however, it returned to being Duke’s night. The Blue Devils would only hit two threes during their dominant 22-10 third quarter. But when the team needed a way to finish off Pittsburgh in the fourth, it returned to the long-range bombs that helped them get to that point in the first place.
Sophomore Jayda Adams started off the final period with a bang from the corner. But the team’s next 3-pointer would be no normal field goal. Because with one flick of her right wrist, rookie sensation Miela Goodchild turned a sensational evening into a historic one—breaking Rebecca Greenwell’s record for three-point field goals by a Duke freshman with her 73rd on the year.
Goodchild—who would finish with a game-high 19 points including a 5-of-8 mark from deep—has been a deadeye for the Blue Devils all season long, her 44.2 three-point percentage ranking ninth in the nation and third in the ACC. The Australian was also named to the ACC All-Freshman Team on Tuesday.
“Yeah it is pretty exciting,” Goodchild said, through a constant chuckle, about breaking the record. “But yeah, got to give it to my teammates—they are the ones who found me for the shot. Yeah, yeah, it is really exciting.”
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That wouldn’t be all, though. Adams and Suggs would trade one more deep ball apiece before the final buzzer sounded, bringing that team total to 12. Adams and Suggs had gone a perfect 3-for-3 and 2-for-2, respectively, from deep off the bench for the Blue Devils. The only other players to chip in shots from three were Goodchild and Gorecki, who went 2-of-7 beyond the arc.
“The players,” McCallie said regarding how her team was so successful from three. “The players. They can shoot. They can all shoot. When they find each other—you saw the 20 assists, there was always an extra pass. And that’s about the players. They do that.”
But the best part of Duke’s 3-point barrage Wednesday night? How much fun the team was having. In a season filled with disappointment, it’s been tough for many of the players to have time to crack a smile during the post games.
But in that Greensboro Coliseum Media Room, it was Gorecki, Goodchild and Suggs who couldn’t control themselves, smiling and giggling throughout the entire press conference. They were having the time of their lives. And after their performance out on the floor, they deserved to.
“It is fun to see your team play well,” McCallie said. “It is fun to watch as coaches. We were doing more watching than coaching, even though we still wanted to coach. But we were doing more watching than coaching in the second half because of the way the team was playing.”