February 04, 2008

Heels take down Duke with offensive assault

DURHAM, N.C. - Near the end of the first half, the Cameron Crazies -- in an apparent fit of potato chip-inspired trash talk -- regaled North Carolina forward LaToya Pringle with a chant of "Lay's are better!"

But Pringle and No. 3 North Carolina got the last laugh, rolling past ninth-ranked Duke 93-76.

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Final: UNC 93, Duke 76

DURHAM, N.C. - Heather Claytor picked up her fifth foul with 2:41 to go. But not before knocking down a 3-pointer at the shot-clock buzzer that put UNC up 85-69. More shot-clock beating Carolina work led to an Erlana Larkins layup to make it 89-71 with 90 seconds to go. There was nothing Duke could do to stop the Tar Heels, who leave Cameron with a crucial win. And the Carolina fans got to enjoy a chant of "Heels house!" before hitting the road.

Carolina in full control

DURHAM, N.C. - Duke just absolutely can not stop the Tar Heels in the paint. Whether it's off a rebound or just out of the half-court offense, UNC has had no trouble getting themselves layups, leaving the Blue Devils scrambling to make up scoring ground. The Tar Heels went up by 19 points with four and a half to go in this game. Barring a big Duke run, this game is Carolina's.

Just like Tyler?

DURHAM, N.C. - Erlana Larkins got a big rebound, layup and foul, prompting a chant from the UNC portion of the crowd of "Just like Tyler" -- a reference to UNC men's hoops All-American Tyler Hansbrough. Needless to say, that didn't make the Cameron Crazies very happy, and neither did the fact that Larkins' free throw put UNC up 74-57 with less than seven minutes to go. But Duke will get three free throws in a moment thanks to LaToya Pringle's fourth foul of the game.

UNC still up by double digits

DURHAM, N.C. - Not much has changed here in the last few minutes, save for the chanting back and forth between Carolina and Duke fans, the former mocking the latter's basketball scoring prowess, and the latter mocking the former's choice of academic institutions. Otherwise, it's still UNC by double digits, 70-57 with 7:57 to go.

UNC keeps answering Duke's scoring

DURHAM, N.C. - Wanisha Smith hit a big three for the Blue Devils, who pulled within 10 points of the Tar Heels for the first time since the half. Problem is, even with all of their trapping and pressing, the Blue Devils just can't seem to keep the Tar Heels off the scoreboard. UNC is up 67-55 with 11:30 to go, and it's going to take an all-out defensive blitz -- assuming Duke hasn't already exhausted that option -- to cut into the advantage.

Pringle, Heels in control

DURHAM, N.C. - LaToya Pringle is a one-woman wrecking crew for the Tar Heels right now, and she is all over the glass. Pringle just got a rebound and layup -- and now has 18 points -- to put the Tar Heels up 59-45 almost five minutes into the second half. While the Blue Devils have managed to keep Erlana Larkins somewhat in check, controlling both of UNC's forwards seems to be a bit too much to ask at the moment. If that keeps up, Carolina is going to pull away even farther than this.

Halftime: UNC 48, Duke 38

DURHAM, N.C. - Theoretically, things could be worse for Duke than the 10-point deficit they currently have to North Carolina. But when you consider that the Blue Devils' success so far this season has come from the fact that opponents are averaging 55 points per game against them, it certainly doesn't bode well that Carolina has 48 at half.

More specific number than that will have to wait, as we just learned that the stats program went down, so no halftime box scores for us writer types. Oh well. The bottom line is the Blue Devils have to figure out how to stop the Tar Heels from scoring, or the UNC lead is only likely to grow larger in the second half.

Ow! My ears....

DURHAM, N.C. - My left ear has been ringing for two days, and you know what's not helping? The girl sitting behind me who screams her head off every time Erlana Larkins touches the ball for UNC. Either the Tar Heels have to stop passing inside or this girl's vocal cords have to give out. Otherwise I might not make it. Of course, the Crazies have plenty else to yell about, since the Blue Devils have cut the Carolina lead to 37-35 with three and a half minutes to go in the first.

Low blow from UNC fans

DURHAM, N.C. - Gotta give the Carolina fans on hand credit, they're giving the Cameron Crazies a run for their money. But the Tar Heel faithful took a bit of a cheap shot with Abby Waner at the line, starting a chant of "Greg Paulus" -- Duke's starting point guard, who also just happens to be Waner's ex-boyfriend. Hey, it's a rivalry. I guess all bets are off. Just for the record, Waner nailed both free throws, but UNC leads by seven with under six to go.

Waner hit and miss, but the game is close

DURHAM, N.C. - If Waner was having trouble with her offense, she sure knew how to fix it -- with defense. Waner stole a UNC pass, went to the other end for a layup and drew a foul from Heather Claytor to cut the Carolina lead to four with 10 minutes left. Two possessions later, it was Keturah Jackson who got the layup to tie the game at 25. So what does Carolina do to answer? A pair of 15-footers from Jessica Breland. Of course, in between those, Waner missed an ill-advised 26-foot shot, so maybe she's not out of the woods just yet. Either way, it looks like this game is just going to go back and forth all night.

Gray splashes one from deep for UNC

DURHAM, N.C. - Man, things are tough for Blue Devils guard Abby Waner, who can't seem to buy a bucket. She shot a three that would've put Duke up two points, but it made two full trips around the rim before finally sneaking out. The rest of the Blue Devils, though, have managed to answer most of UNC's buckets.

Of course, they might have a tough time matching the shot UNC's Rebecca Gray just made, a 25-footer to put the Heels up 22-16 with 11:44 to go in the half.

UNC starts off hot

DURHAM, N.C. - It's a brisk start to this game with both teams scoring quickly and often. But the Tar Heels were the ones who jumped out to an early 13-6 lead, prompting a Duke timeout. Both teams seem focused on going inside, so we'll see which one succeeds more.

Tar Heels, Blue Devils renew rivalry

DURHAM, N.C. - While the college basketball world eagerly awaits the Duke-North Carolina men's game on Wednesday in Chapel Hill, the 2008 version of the rivalry between the two schools tips off tonight here at Cameron Indoor Stadium between the UNC and Duke women's teams.

Not that there's any pressure on the third-ranked Tar Heels (19-2, 6-0 in the ACC) or No. 9 Blue Devils (16-5, 5-1), but for the last seven years, the team that has won the first game in the matchup has swept the season series. Carolina comes into the game as winner of 10 of its last 11, while Duke has won three of its last four, the lone loss to Tennessee.

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January 14, 2008

Another Classic Rivalry Game

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke and Maryland is a rivalry, there is no doubt about that. The 15,531 in attendance at the Comcast Center, the fifth highest total in ACC history, proves it.

What first started in 2006 at the Final Four when the underdog Terps beat the Blue Devils only grew last year when Duke beat Maryland twice during the regular season to exact their revenge.

This season, with Duke losing All-Americans Alison Bales and Lindsey Harding, and with Maryland keeping almost its entire roster from that 2006 title team, you would think Maryland would have an easy go. Especially at home.

It definitely wasn't easy.

"Anytime we play Duke, the physicality of the game obviously steps up," said Maryland senior Laura Harper when asked about finally putting a stop to not beating Duke at home since 1998. "Pride, obviously, is a big thing with the rivalry. We wanted to end this streak and as much as you don't want to say it, that's something that was important to us and it feels so good to say as a senior, now we did it."

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It's Over

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the score 85-70 with 51.4 seconds to play, this one is all over but Duke's crying.

The Blue Devils held their own for a long time in this game, longer than I expected. But, in the end, Maryland was too much. A revelation many ACC teams will be finding out shortly.

The Terps improve to 20-1 on the season with the victory and Duke falls to 13-4. Maryland is now 4-0 in the ACC and Duke is 2-1.

Your leading scorer was Marissa Coleman, who tied her career high with 30 points. Check back later for a complete postgame recap.

Tie, And Then Not

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke scratched and clawed and tied the game.

Then Maryland took it back.

Duke managed to tie the game at 65 and then again at 68 before Maryland used inside play and free throws to score the next eight points and go up 76-68 with 3:23 to go.

Maryland's Marissa Coleman is in the middle of one of the best games she has played at Maryland. The junior has 27 points right now, three off her career high which she set earlier in the season against UC Santa Barbara.

Harper Goes Out

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland's Laura Harper picked up her fourth foul with just under nine minutes to play in the game.

That could hurt the Terps, who must counter with 6-foot-1 Jade Perry. Without the 6-foot-4 Harper, Maryland's biggest player is Crystal Langhorne at 6-foot-2. This puts Maryland at a disadvantage on the boards.

After a Wanisha Smith bucket, Duke has crawled back to within five at 65-60 with 7:50 to play in the game.

Hanging Around

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With 11:35 to play in the game, Duke is hanging in there.

The score is 60-53 with the Blue Devils looking like they will be in this game until the end. With that said, Maryland still looks like the much better team.

It is obvious that Maryland has one of the best - if not the best - starting fives in the nation and Duke simply cannot compete. But with Maryland struggling to hit its shots and with turnovers happening more frequently than Brenda Frese would like, Duke sticks around.

All this sticking around could prove very costly for Maryland in the end. Stick around for the exciting conclusion.

Duke Losing Composure? Don't Think So

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Joy Cheek gave Marissa Coleman a love tap.

The official didn't feel so good about it. He gave her a technical foul as Coleman laughed off the bump.

Meanwhile, Maryland is missing its shots and all the technical did was ignite the Blue Devils. Duke's Jasmine Thomas hit a three and followed that with a steal and a lay up to bring Duke all the way back into this game.

The score is now 47-44 Maryland with 18 minutes to play in the game.

Great End To The Half

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - What an incredible finish to an otherwise suspect first half here at the Comcast Center.

It all happened with Maryland up 37-31 with one minute to play. Marissa Coleman hit a three from the corner and pumped her fists in celebration, making the crowd erupt.

The Terps followed the three by picking off a Duke pass and going on a fast break, ended by another Coleman three with 20 seconds left that gave them a 43-31 lead and made the crowd go nuts.

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Still Fight In These Devils

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Well, folks, Duke has found a way to claw back into this game.

How? Mostly because Maryland started playing a little sloppy, combined with missing their shots and not getting to loose balls and rebounds.

That's not to take anything away from Duke's play, they are playing scrappy and with a lot of heart and hustle, but Maryland just looks physically superior in every way, and yet, after another Abby Waner steal and lay up, the score is 31-27 with 3:47 remaining in the first half and Waner still with another free throw.

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Abby Waner Sighting

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Did Duke wake up?

It's been like sleep walking over the first 10 minutes for the Blue Devils. Maryland opened a 17-4 lead.

The lead has now shrunk to 17-11 after Abby Waner scored five points in a row off a ridiculously long-range bomb and then a steal at the top of the key to lead a break and complete a nifty behind-the-back pass and get back to finish.

Duke needs more of Waner if they hope to get back in this game and eventually pull off the upset. Duke needs more of Waner, period.

Give Me More Harper

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke has taken their second timeout of the game and we still have 14:19 to play in the first half!

Laura Harper is unconscious right now, making steals and scoring at the other end. Harper has nine of Maryland's 17 points as they lead Duke, 17-4.

Maryland Starts Quick, Duke Cold

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Duke was going to have to come out and be next to perfect to avoid a quick start from Maryland.

They are nowhere near perfect. Try 1-for-8 from the field.

And that's why Maryland - just overpowering Duke physically and on the blocks - has opened up an early 10-2 lead.

Laura Harper has been big, converting on a three-point play and hitting two other free throws for five early points. Marah Strickland followed a Marissa Coleman steal by hitting a three that gave the Terps their 10 points. Kristi Toliver has the other two points for the Terps.

Terrapins Out For Revenge

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Welcome to the "House That Gary Built" and that coach Brenda Frese is currently leasing until the men's version of the Terrapins can catch up.

Maryland wears red, the color of blood, and that's exactly what they can smell as the No. 10 Duke Blue Devils come to the Comcast Center.

Sure, Duke is riding an impressive eight-game winning streak since retaining the services of senior Wanisha Smith, junior Abby Waner and freshman Krystal Thomas, who missed a combined 14 games on the season so far.

That doesn't bother Maryland. The Terps will have a message for Duke.

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December 08, 2007

Not With a Bang

NEW YORK -- It's no storybook ending, but it certainly the expected one, as Rutgers stepped right over Army here at the Garden. Army kept the game tight until the final minute of the first half, and once Rutgers got rolling there wasn't much the Black Knights could do to stop them. Final of the second game of this afternoon's Maggie Dixon Classic: 59-42.

December 06, 2007

Duke scratches and claws for ugly upset

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers arrived at Cameron Indoor Stadium riding one of the nation's most impressive winning streaks, claiming victories over three highly ranked opponents. But that winning streak ground to a halt in fairly unimpressive fashion as Duke edged out Rutgers for a 49-44 victory.

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Done deal

DURHAM, N.C. -- Keturah Jackson converted one of two controversial free throws to ice the game and there's nothing left to do except for the home team to celebrate as Duke holds a 49-44 lead with 1.2 seconds left. More to come after the postgame press conferences.

Upset brewing?

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers is killing itself down the stretch. The Knights came up with a stop, forcing Duke into a long 3, but Epiphanny Prince traveled while trying to corral the rebound. Rutgers then committed a foul 30 feet from the basket, resulting in a 1-and-1. Duke made one of two to take a 45-44 lead. On the ensuing possession, Rutgers looked totally out of sorts on offense and had a wild shot blocked in the lane. At some point in the hubbub after Rutgers was forced to foul on the rebound a technical was charged against Rutgers. Abby Waner knocked down both free throws and now lead 47-44 with a 1-and-1 coming and just 10.9 seconds on the clock.

OT Bound?

DURHAM, N.C. -- Essence Carson has had a quiet night, but her 10-footer from the baseline has just knotted the score at 44-44. The offense has been a little more lively in the second half, but with 51.3 seconds left it's far from a sure thing that either team will score again. Either way, this game just has the feel of a contest destined for overtime.

Asleep at the wheel

DURHAM, N.C. -- This game is lulling everybody to sleep. Essence Vaughn stepped to the line and missed her free throw. Everybody -- the Devils on the blocks, the referees -- stood around and watched the ball bounce off the rim. Heather Zurich, seemingly the only one paying attention, picked up the loose ball and put back a layup. The Rutgers bench all had one finger raised indicating it was a 1-and-1 and even the refs weren't quite sure how to call it. But it was in fact a 1-and-1 and a head's up play by Zurich. In a game where points are at a premium, the Dookies will be kicking themselves if they lose because of a mental lapse like that.

Depth charge

DURHAM, N.C. -- If the Blue Devils pull this one out, they can thank their bench. Jasmine Thomas' three from the left wing just resulted in another Rutgers timeout and a 38-37 lead for Duke. The last 11 Blue Devil points have come from Duke's bench. But Epiphanny Price is single-handedly keeping Rutgers in this, drilling a 3 from the corner as the shot clock was expiring to put Rutgers back out in front. Price leads all scorers with 15 points.

Attention scoreboard operator

DURHAM, N.C. -- It took better than 30 minutes but the offenses have finally woken up. Epiphanny Price hit the game's first 3 since early in the first half and Duke responded with a long jump shot of its own. Rutgers answered back with a 3-ball from Heather Zurich. If that keeps up, the Devils might actually have to consider falling out of their zone. Jasmine Thomas made a lovely drive to the hoop and got hacked to electrify the crowd on the other end of the floor. The under 8 timeout interrupted the momentum, but Duke is down just two with the free throw pending.

Another drought finally ends

DURHAM, N.C. -- Rutgers endured another extended field goal drought, this time going nearly seven minutes without one. The only thing keeping the Knights in the game was the inside presence of Rashidat Junaid (four free throws) and the equally woeful shooting by the Blue Devils. The streak was only snapped after Kia Vaughn had three cracks from two feet away. Rutgers followed that layup with a hanging, change-of-direction layup by Matee Ajavon to give the Knights a 29-27 lead.

And Duke takes the lead

DURHAM, N.C. -- So far, Stringer's gamble hasn't paid off. The second unit looks even more out of sorts than the starting lineup and Stringer had to call a timeout after a miscommunication led to a turnover and an on-court shouting match. The larger question is, has Rutgers EVER seen a zone before? Duke hasn't slid out of it and the Knights still look completely confused by it. Of course it doesn't help that they can't make a jump shot and extend the defense. Duke is on an 8-0 run right now and Cameron is finally starting to get loud. And the Rutgers starters are still sitting.


DURHAM, N.C. -- Clearly C. Vivian Stringer doesn't like what she's seeing out of her team in the first two minutes after intermission. After going more than 11 minutes without a field goal in the first half the Knights remained sluggish to start the second half. So after a foul on the defensive end, Stringer summoned a fresh lineup, subbing out all five of her players. Despite the move, Duke has crawled back to tie it at 21-21, the first tie since it was 2 all.

The half in a nutshell

DURHAM, N.C. -- All you needed to do was watch the final 10 seconds of the first half to get a sense of how things went in the first 20 minutes. Rutgers rushed the ball up the court for a final shot but threw a sloppy pass that got intercepted by Brittany Mitch in the open court. Mitch broke free up the court but never paid heed to the clock and was still dribbling toward the basket when the buzzer sounded.

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Rutgers' turn

DURHAM, N.C. -- Now it's Rutgers' turn to go an extended stretch without a field goal. It's been better than seven minutes since their last score from the floor, but Duke has been unable to capitalize. The score was 13-6 when Rutgers last hit a shot and with under 3 minutes to go Duke has managed to only cut the deficit to 17-15.

Zoned out

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Blue Devils have fallen back into a zone and it's working against the cold-shooting Knights. Rutgers has been unable to find gaps or penetrate through the zone and its lone 3 came on a broken play. Rutgers better hope those jumpers start falling because it probably can't count on scoring all its points in transition and still maintain a lead over the Devils who are slowly but surely finding their offense. The Knights are clinging to a 15-13 lead at the under 8 timeout.

Breaking news...Duke scores!

DURHAM, N.C. -- After a drought of nearly six minutes, Carrem Gay knocked down a 15-footer to snap Rutgers' 11-0 run. After another Rutgers turnover, Gay hit another jumper to cut the Duke deficit to 11-6, prompting C. Vivian Stringer to call a timeout of her own. Let's see if these early timeouts can settle these teams down.

Ice cold

DURHAM, N.C. -- Neither team has looked very impressive, but Rutgers still started with a 11-2 run. Duke scored on its first possession and haven't come close since with an assortment of missed layups, errant jump shots and bad turnovers. Rutgers has had a few unforced turnovers as well, but has converted those turnovers into points. The big shot so far was an Epiphanny Price 3 from the left wing with the shot clock expiring following back-to-back Duke blocks. The Devils already burned one timeout before the first media stoppage, but all that led to was another poor entry pass that landed out-of-bounds.

Pre-Game Honors

DURHAM, N.C. -- There was a brief ceremony before the game honoring Wanish Smith, who recently surpassed the 1,000 point mark, becoming the 22nd Blue Devil to accomplish the feat. The jump is coming and Cameron is still half-empty.

Revenge-minded Duke hosts Rutgers

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Cameron Crazies are still fairly subdued (and sparse) with tip-off from Cameron Indoor Stadium about 15 minutes away. Third-ranked Rutgers (5-1) enters Cameron on a roll, having won five straight -- including two victories against top 10 opponents. Meanwhile, Duke (5-3) stumbles into the matchup on a three-game losing streak as coach Joanne McCallie's first season has gotten off to a slow start.

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November 15, 2007

An Assesment Of Duke

TAMPA - Well, Duke's good. But are they that good?

Truly, the jury is still out on these Blue Devils, who are young, and who played without star All-American candidate Abby Waner due to a tweaked ankle - an ankle that in a massive air cast looked a lot worse than a tweak.

Duke was able to do pretty much anything they pleased against an outworked and overmatched USF team that falls to 1-1 on the season after the 89-52 spanking at the hands of the Blue Devils. I bet Bethune Cookman didn't have athletes like Duke.

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No Horns On These Bulls

TAMPA - With the score 73-38 and just under seven minutes to play in the game, I think it's time to let the Lady Vols and Sooners take the floor.

This game has come to a stand-still. The tempo could put you to.........sorry, sleep.

Could you imagine if Abby Waner played? The fact is, Duke is simply bigger and stronger. They can do anything they want on the inside and have just taken the ball away from USF's guards multiple times.

It is apparent that these two teams are on different levels. Duke's bench would probably defeat USF's starters, especially without the Bulls' center Lawson, who fouled out just as the second half was beginning.

At least it won't be a long ride back to campus for the Tampa-based Bulls.

Fouled Out, Bowled Over

TAMPA - USF might be down 47-18 with still 17:44 to play in the game, but the Bulls do lead the Blue Devils in tackles.

Oh, wait, wrong sport.

Center Jessica Lawson had four fouls already at the 18 minute mark when a pass to Wanisha Smith was broken up by solid hip check, sending the ball, and Smith, flying towards the Duke bench.

With Smith writhing in the floor in pain, Lawson didn't even look at the pain she had inflicted, she just continued walking towards her bench, knowing that she just fouled out of the game with her team only scoring 18 points.

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Duke's JT

TAMPA - The Duke Blue Devils look like two completely different basketball teams at times, and both versions are beating the USF Bulls badly, 38-15 at the half.

There is the Duke that plays a slower, perimeter passing game, utlilizing its bigs to make up for the fact that the guards aren't quick or particularly good ball handlers. Then there is the Duke that runs and plays a fast-paced brand of ball led by freshman point guard Jasmine Thomas.

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Orange and Blue

TAMPA - The game is USF against Duke.

The colors involved should be gold, green, blue and white. So why do I see so much Tennessee Orange?

The Lady Vols fans certainly can travel and they are the predominant makeup of the crowd. Right now I am looking across the court in the stands and I see two colors, blue (the empty seats) and orange (the Lady Vol faithful).

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Proving Her Point

TAMPA - Duke's Jasmine Thomas didn't get the start, but after just a few minutes of action, after it was obvious that Brittany Mitch and Wanisha Smith struggled at getting the ball up the court, Thomas entered.

On the first play that she was in the game, Thomas stole the ball and went coast to coast for a driving lay-up and the foul.

Thomas must be a factor for Duke to win this season. She will be the answer to the departed Lindsey Harding. On both offense and defense, as she seems to excel at both thus far in this game.

After only five minutes of action the score is Duke 8, USF 4.

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No Waner For Duke

TAMPA - The ESPNU Basketball Invitational starts at 7:30 p.m. ET and will feature two excellent games. In the first, No. 10 Duke meets the Big East's South Florida Bulls and in the finale, a dream matchup, No. 1 Tennessee plays Courtney Paris and No. 9 Oklahoma.

It should prove a fun night of basketball, but for Duke, the night starts with some bad news...

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