After a tight battle at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas for the majority of Thursday night's action, Duke broke through in the final minutes against UNLV, with a 20-9 fourth quarter run leading the Blue Devils to victory.
Following a tough loss on the road against No. 5 Texas A&M, the Blue Devils were on a mission to bring back a win in their second away game of the week. Although the contest was a back-and-forth affair, Duke’s balanced scoring attack pushed the team to a 57-45 win.
“It was a great team effort,” Duke head coach Joanne P McCallie told GoDuke.com. “The team out there was very intense, working off each other beautifully with deflections, points, threes and attacks and at times things just have to click. I wish we had longer in the game because our best part was the last six minutes of the game.”
Graduate student Haley Gorecki led the Blue Devils with 15 points, while senior Leaonna Odom put up 13 and sophomore Miela Goodchild added 12 points of her own. Odom showed up in the decisive last quarter, tallying six of her 13 points in the period, while Goodchild had a career-high eight rebounds.
The first quarter indicated it would be an intense game, as UNLV pulled ahead to an early 13-8 advantage. The Blue Devils responded throughout the quarter, and some key free throws from Gorecki and a timely 3-pointer from Odom allowed Duke to end the first quarter knotted at 13.
By the time the Blue Devils (2-1) reached the half, the score had already flipped in the Rebels' favor. Although Duke finished the game with a solid 58.3 field goal percentage, it only sunk 2-of-8 attempts in the second quarter.
UNLV (0-2) held the lead at 34-27 in the last five minutes of the third quarter, but Duke’s defense buckled down, allowing no Rebel points scoring for the rest of the period. The Blue Devils gained momentum in these final minutes and, with the help of Odom, Duke regained a 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Some solid team chemistry in the final six minutes of the game allowed Duke to take a victory after an exhausting game. With just three minutes left of the fourth quarter, graduate Lambert hit a trey in the final second of the shot clock. The three came just in time, as Lambert pushed her team up to lead 50-43. Lambert finished with five points, three rebounds and a steal.
“[Kyra Lambert] had incredible energy, intensity and mediacy on the floor—deflections, steals, an incredible three that she put up at the end with the shot clock,” McCallie told GoDuke.com. "It’s so fun to see Kyra out there taking charge. Her leadership was clear.”
The Blue Devils made a long journey out west, but the the team made the travel worthwhile. Duke will return home after two straight road games to play Northwestern Sunday in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke has won its only home game thus this season.
“We’re excited to get better from this experience and get home and just take it one day at a time and get after it this Sunday,” McCallie told GoDuke.com. "Hopefully folks can head out and support the team.”
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