Every year, there are the horror stories of Division II schools coming in to play Power 5 schools in exhibitions and surprising everyone. Lower-rated squads can escape with wins or at least keep it close, ruining what was supposed to be the host school’s warm-up game.
Such was not the case on a lazy Saturday afternoon in Durham, as Duke’s entire squad came alive, running the floor and putting together a cohesive effort that resulted in an 106-33 beatdown of Wingate.
Right off the bat, it was clear that this game was going to be a track meet. Freshman combo guard Jadyn Donovan led the early charge, scoring the first two buckets of the game inside. While the first was on a set play, the second was when Donovan used her speed to get out in front of the play and score an easy layup. She almost managed to make another consecutive transition score when sophomore guard Taina Mair threw up an alley-oop that Donvan tipped home, but the basket was called back on a charge. From there, Duke took off.
By the end of the first quarter, the Blue Devils were already well outside striking distance, as they led 32-7. The Bulldogs had made just one field goal, shooting at an unimpressive 10% clip. Part of that can be attributed to what was a stifling Duke defense, one that provided very little room for quality shots. The Blue Devils had 10 steals and four blocks at the end of just the first half.
Wingate was just outmatched. The Bulldogs looked helpless, unable to even find quality shots. At every turn, the hosts looked quicker, stronger and more skilled. Led by a 12-point second-quarter performance from Reigan Richardson that included 100% shooting from the field, Duke was solidly in the driver’s seat. The half ended punctuated by a late 3-pointer from guard Ashlon Jackson, and Duke led 55-15.
Coming into the second half, the story was similar. Jackson opened play with another 3-pointer, and the Bulldogs still failed to find an answer for the home team’s stifling defensive play. Donovan continued to dominate as well. With just under eight minutes left in the third period, she stole the ball at the top of the key and accelerated ahead of the defense for another easy bucket.
Halfway through the third quarter, this game was essentially over. The Blue Devils had given up just three points to the Bulldogs, and led by 52. Notably, this one was a whole team effort. While Donovan led the squad in points, everyone up and down the bench contributed to the blowout. All 10 Blue Devils managed to score at least four points.
Donovan continued to have an excellent first college outing, looming as a very dangerous transition threat. Her length and speed also aided her on defense, where she posted two blocks and a steal. The punctuation mark for her came with a little more than seven minutes left in the four quarter, as she leaped up to grab a lofted ball in transition, tossing it back and forth to Jordan Wood before eventually finishing the quick layup.
At the end of the day, this game was about the home team asserting its will on the opponent. The Blue Devils played their game, working hard to force turnovers, and getting out in transition to force mismatches and take advantage of what was a significant size advantage on Wingate. Duke ended up scoring 18 points on the fast-break, and another 35 from turnovers.
Now with the warm-up out of the way, the Blue Devils will begin the regular season gauntlet. The official opener is set for Monday at 11 a.m. against Richmond, and after that the group from Durham will be off to the races before what will be a challenge scrimmage matchup next weekend against the touring USA Basketball team.
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