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Recapping the week in Duke athletics: Men's basketball falls out of top 25, women's tennis starts strong

Virginia Tech's Keve Aluma (22) is surrounded by Duke defenders, from left, Matthew Hurt (21)  Mark Williams (15) and DJ Steward (2) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Blacksburg, Va., Tuesday January12 2021. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)
Virginia Tech's Keve Aluma (22) is surrounded by Duke defenders, from left, Matthew Hurt (21) Mark Williams (15) and DJ Steward (2) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Blacksburg, Va., Tuesday January12 2021. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)

Each week, we’ll recap how each of Duke’s sports currently in competition performed over the last week, and give a brief look ahead.

Men’s basketball

The Blue Devils took the court once last week, and the result was not pretty. Duke struggled out of the gates at then-No. 20 Virginia Tech, trailing 46-34 at the intermission. Despite a stellar run from Matthew Hurt early in the second half, the Blue Devils could never fully seize the momentum, eventually falling 74-67 to the Hokies. Duke (5-3, 3-1 in the ACC) ended up dropping out of the AP Poll for the first time since Feb. 2016, though a bounce-back opportunity presents itself for the Blue Devils this Tuesday night at Pittsburgh. -Max Rego

Women’s tennis

After individual competition at the Duke Winter Classic Jan. 10-12, No. 6 Duke opened up team competition with a 7-0 sweep of Charlotte this past Thursday. The Blue Devils return their top five singles players from last year, but two key newcomers—Vanderbilt transfer Georgia Drummy and top recruit Karolina Berankova—also made an impact in the team’s season-opening win. Duke (1-0) continued individual competition at the UNC Invitational this past Saturday, its next team event coming at the ITA Kickoff Weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday. The Blue Devils take on No. 22 Michigan Saturday and either No. 12 Georgia Tech or No. 14 South Carolina Sunday. -Evan Kolin

Men’s tennis

No. 23 Duke competed as individuals in the ACC Challenge, winning 13 of 18 events against No. 8 N.C. State Saturday through Sunday and then eight of 11 events against Virginia Tech Monday. The Blue Devils will compete in their first team event of the season at the ITA Kickoff Weekend, taking on No. 20 South Carolina this Sunday before either Northwestern or No. 2 North Carolina Monday. -Kolin

Wrestling

Duke lost its season opener to No. 12 Pittsburgh Saturday. There wasn’t much to celebrate on the day, but redshirt freshman Patrick Rowland provided a glimpse of excitement for the Blue Devils. Rowland won in a 4-3 decision to secure his first-ever collegiate match win, with fellow Blue Devils Brandon LaRue and Josh Finesilver defeating their opponents as well. The team will have to regroup quickly, with Duke (0-1, 0-1) taking on No. 13 North Carolina this upcoming Friday. -Jake Piazza

Swimming and diving

On Saturday, Duke celebrated Senior Day against N.C. State in the team’s final home meet of the season. Although both the men and 16th-ranked women fell short against the sixth-ranked Wolfpack men and fourth-ranked Wolfpack women, several Blue Devils posted impressive performances. The men’s quartet of David Hallaron, Cole Reznick, Charlie Gingrich and John Day won the 200-yard IM relay, while Sarah Foley continued her strong freshman season with a win in the 100-yard breaststroke for the women. Duke will be back in the water Jan. 29 against North Carolina, the Blue Devils’ last meet before the ACC Championships. -Rosie Li

Indoor track and field

A number of Blue Devils got off to a strong start over the team’s first two meets of the season. Leading the list is Ezra Mellinger, who was named the ACC Men’s Co-Field performer of the Week this past Monday. The recognition was for his first-place long jump finish in the Orange and Purple Elite Meet Jan. 9, with the sophomore adding wins in the 60-meter and 200-meter sprints as well, giving him a total of three first-place finishes on the day. In the Virginia Tech Invitational Jan. 16, senior Erin Marsh set a new PR with her 1.77-meter high jump, the third-highest mark in Duke indoor history. The team heads back to Blacksburg, Va., next week for the Hokie Invite Jan. 21-23. -Piazza

Men’s golf opened its season Sunday at the Camp Creek Seminole Invitational, placing third out of 10 teams on the opening day of the meet and then fourth out of 10 Monday. Play will conclude Tuesday.

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