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Despite Gorecki's brilliance, Duke women's basketball's supporting cast shines bright

<p>Azana Baines dazzled off the bench against the Eagles.</p>

Azana Baines dazzled off the bench against the Eagles.

Morale might be low around Duke's campus due to finals week, but a victory Sunday afternoon gave the Blue Devils a reason to smile.  

In their victory against Boston College, the Blue Devils used a multi-pronged approach in order to take a win into their break for exams. Even though Duke’s top scorer hit a career milestone and continued to sink basket after basket, the team did not rely exclusively on its star guard, Haley Gorecki. 

Instead, along with Gorecki dropping 27 points, three other Duke players scored in double-digits. Off the bench, Azana Baines scored 15 points while starters Miela Goodchild and Leaonna Odom recorded 14 and 13 points, respectively. 

Gorecki scored five points in the opening frame on two made baskets, the latter of which came after she was fouled making a layup, adding an and-one to her stat sheet. She scored seven more in the second quarter, highlighted by a 3-pointer which gave her 1,002 career points. In the third quarter, Gorecki contributed five more and finished the game with 10 in the fourth to seal the contest. 

“You guys probably won’t believe me, but we did want to limit her touches in this game,” Boston College head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “We didn’t do a very good job of sticking to that game plan." 

For Boston College, focusing too much on Gorecki opened paths for other Blue Devils to score. That opening came by way of a connection between Odom and Goodchild, who worked together to put away the Eagles. 

With less than two minutes remaining in the opening quarter, Baines drove into the paint and kicked out to the wing for an open 3-point attempt from Gorecki. She missed the shot, but Odom elevated to grab the rebound before she spun out of traffic with a dribble. She then fired off a strong pass to Goodchild, who took a few steps up to the 3-point line. The Australian native quickly made the long-range shot to extend Duke’s lead to six, which forced Boston College to use its first timeout. 

“If everyone is crashing the board and you get an [offensive rebound], then there is no one to guard the three-point shooter,” Odom said. “Just an easy find and kick it out.” 

That was only the first of many assists from Odom into the open hands of Goodchild. Three minutes into the second quarter, Boston College trailed by seven points and implemented a full court press. After Duke found its way around the press, Odom, opted to not take her defender off the dribble, instead quickly tossing it to the trailing Goodchild for another made 3-pointer.  

With about three minutes left in the third quarter and the Blue Devil advantage cut to just six, Odom stepped up and knocked down an open deep ball—her third of the season on only four tries—off an assist from Baines. On the next possession, Odom grabbed the defensive board, and pushed it ahead to Gorecki, who missed the shot, but Odom was there for the offensive rebound. She looked up and saw Goodchild in the perfect location, only a few feet to the left of where Odom made her own triple. Odom’s perfectly placed pass to Goodchild allowed her to set her feet and drain her third shot from behind the arc. 

A little more than a minute later, Odom brought down another offensive rebound by tipping the ball up and grabbing it. Falling out of bounds underneath the basket, Odom once again found Goodchild open at the top of the key. Odom launched the ball over the top of the defenders crashing the boards and Goodchild’s efficient stroke put her team up by 13 points. 

Odom and Goodchild’s tag-team effort allowed Duke to pull away from the Eagles, as the team did not have to solely rely on Gorecki for scoring in crunch time. Hopefully for Duke, this trend of balanced scoring can continue as it begins a two-game road trip in just under two weeks. 

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