In their 91-75 Sunday win over Troy, the Blue Devils put a much more impressive performance than last Wednesday's matchup with Appalachian State.
Duke was much calmer with the ball, registering 19 turnovers compared to Wednesday’s 26. The 16-point margin of victory was the largest for the Blue Devils since their lopsided win over UNC Wilmington two weeks ago. Overall, against a tough Trojan team, the Blue Devils can walk with their heads held high when they watch the tape or reflect on the performance.
“They’re really hard to play and we were very concerned about this game," head coach Kara Lawson said on the challenges that Troy presented. "Their athleticism, their pressure on both ends—offensively they put so much pressure on you attacking and driving to the rim and in transition, and then defensively they mix their man and their zone and really got after our guards and forced some turnovers.
"I’m pleased that we were able to handle that [pressure]. I thought we competed better in this game than we did in our last game and that was something that we talked about, and we worked on as a group leading into this.” Lawson pointed out.
While those previously mentioned statistics are important ones, the main factor that propelled Duke to victory its volume of shooting from behind the arc. The Blue Devils attempt 32 three-point attempts, one less than their season-high, and made a season-best 13 3-pointers. These figures were mostly a result of Shayeann Day-Wilson and Celeste Taylor having outstanding shooting nights. Day-Wilson shot 80% from three on 10 attempts, tying a school record for made triples in a single game.
“She certainly shot the ball well and was playing very confidently, and I think that with Shay her confidence and her competitiveness—those two things combined—give her the ability to make plays," Lawson said on Day-Wilson's performance. "She’s confident in her skill, she’s confident in her vision, she’s confident in her ability to make plays and beat people. So, on a night like this where it seemed like everything she was throwing up was going in, I thought our team did a great job of recognizing that and allowing her to operate freely and get some shots."
She also broke a personal record, as Day-Wilson attained a new season-high of 26 points. These achievements would eventually merit her being named the ACC Freshman Of The Week, which was awarded Monday.
"Those were tough shots," Lawson said on the freshman guard's shot-making ability. "I don’t think a lot of them were bad defense by Troy, she just did a good job of making them. She’s a freshman, she’s growing. It’s obvious that you can see the talent that’s there and you can see the skill that’s there, but there are things that we still need to work on.”
Taylor also had a hot hand during the game, shooting 50% from behind the arc. The junior also achieved a season-high for 3-point attempts and tied her most makes from downtown this year, with six and three, respectively.
Although Duke’s 3-point percentage against Troy, 40.6%, was slightly lower than the Appalachian State win, it was important to note that Lexi Gordon had an off day. She often leads the team in 3-point-scoring, but only shot 1-for-9 from distance. Despite the subpar performance from Gordon, though, Lawson was still full of praise for the Texas native.
“Lexi’s been such an amazing 3-point shooter for us through the first five games and she had an off night, but I thought she was confident when she took her shots and I thought they were good shots, by and large," Lawson said.
Proceeding this game, there seems to be growing confidence among the Blue Devils about their abilities from behind the arc. Once Gordon moves forward from Sunday's poor shooting display and gets the threes to drop, that will add to Day-Wilson and Taylor's abilities from outside.
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Then, the Blue Devils could pose a lethal arsenal.