Duke came out strong in the first half behind a collective effort from over half of its roster. Senior Miela Goodchild led with her 11 points, but it was Celeste Taylor who ignited the offense with her eight straight points to start off the game. The Blue Devils take a 42-19 lead into halftime, and here are our five observations.
Speed is key
Duke’s fast-paced game has been made clear over the past 14 minutes, in multiple plays such as Shayeann Day-Wilson’s halfcourt pass to Taylor in transition for the easy layup as well as powerful drives by Onome Akinbode-James. The centers don’t waste time under the net after grabbing a defensive rebound, but rather kick the ball out to Day-Wilson in an attempt to catch the Bulldogs unprepared. Early in the second quarter, Miela Goodchild powered the Bulldog defense for a full-court layup and a foul.
Taylor on offense
Texas transfer Celeste Taylor did not wait around to show who’s boss, scoring all of Duke’s eight points within the first seven minutes. She is comfortable under the basket, further out in the paint and beyond the arc, proving to be an offensive force for the Blue Devils and trouble for the Bulldogs.
Wingate led 12-10 with less than three minutes left in the first quarter, most of which was due to Duke's trouble of containing the opponent under the basket. The Bulldogs seem to prefer running a five-out or four-out one-in on offense, forcing Duke to spread out on the 3-point line and creating a one-on-one matchup in the paint between Duke’s 6-foot-1 Imani Lewis and Wingate’s 6-foot-2 AJ Davis. This trouble securing the ball has given the Bulldogs more offensive opportunities than ideal.
A deep bench
While Vanessa de Jesus, Celeste Taylor, Lexi Gordon, Jade Williams and Elizabeth Balogun started tonight, Miela Goodchild, Onome Akinbode-James, Shayeann Day-Williams and Imani Lewis have all made significant contributions to the game as well. With about two-thirds of the team seeing the court in only the first half, it seems that Duke has depth in its roster this season.
Speed is only key if plays are executed, and the Blue Devils seem to have difficulty finishing in transition. In the first quarter, both Taylor and Balogun missed passes that could have been turned into easy layups but rather resulted in another offensive opportunity for the Bulldogs.
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