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Duke women's basketball defends home court with the help of a suffocating press

<p>Miela Goodchild's shooting from deep helped the Blue Devils space the floor and ultimately defeat the Yellow Jackets.</p>

Miela Goodchild's shooting from deep helped the Blue Devils space the floor and ultimately defeat the Yellow Jackets.

The Blue Devils continued their winning ways at home as they picked up their ninth victory inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

After a back-and-forth game of runs, Duke prevailed against Georgia Tech 58-46 Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils’ offensive outburst in the second and third quarters were led by graduate student Haley Gorecki and senior Leaonna Odom. The pair finished with 18 and 16 points, respectively, and proved to be a difficult defensive assignment for Georgia Tech. 

“[It was] a hard-fought game…. [I’m] thrilled about the rebounding edge at the end,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I thought that [Odom’s] leadership with Haley was outstanding.” 

Winners of four of their last five contests entering the matinee ACC matchup, the Blue Devils (11-9, 5-4 in the ACC) looked to jump out to an early advantage, and they did just that. Graduate student Kyra Lambert knocked down a triple on the team’s first possession. After Duke took a 7-2 lead less than four minutes into the first quarter, Georgia Tech (14-6, 5-4) stormed back with a 7-0 run of their own to take a two-point lead. 

That lead increased to seven before sophomore Miela Goodchild nailed a 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. On the next possession, the Australia native sunk another long-range shot to bring Duke within one. 

“That’s what Miela does,” Gorecki said. “She knocks down threes when she gets the ball, so we wanted to keep on feeding her.” 

Lambert then turned that deficit into a 17-16 lead after she stole Georgia Tech’s inbound pass and scored a fast-break layup. Duke also began to play an aggressive three-quarter court press, which not only slowed down the Yellow Jackets, but also led to a few turnovers. Georgia Tech finished the first half with 13 giveaways. 

“Our press is really good. When a team is not really prepared for it, we’ll throw out random presses,” Odom said. “It just works in our favor. We get steals and that leads to offense and less time really playing defense.” 

The Yellow Jackets went on a 7-0 run to kick off the second half, which brought them within five. A 3-pointer from Georgia Tech’s Francesca Pan once again cut the deficit. The Yellow Jackets eventually took their first lead since the first half. 

“We were a little flat and just not as intense,” McCallie said regarding the opening minutes of the second half. “The team regrouped…. Recognizing that we’ve just got to play our game.” 

Odom scored a layup in transition to put her in double figures before Lambert converted a difficult layup to put the Blue Devils ahead 39-37. After a basket from the Yellow Jackets, Gorecki drained a corner triple in front of her bench and scored a fast-break layup off a steal and assist from freshman Azana Baines. 

With a 48-42 advantage heading into the final 10 minutes of regulation, Odom quickly converted an and-one. After Duke took a 53-42 lead, it was held scoreless until Gorecki drained a free throw to make it an eight-point game with two minutes left. 

Boykin then stole the ball and took it all the way for an easy layup as Duke regained a double-digit advantage for good. The Blue Devils held the Yellow Jackets to only four points in the final period to seal the home victory. 

The Blue Devils will continue their three-game homestand with No. 8 North Carolina State next Sunday. 

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