No. 6 Duke 61, Charlotte 55
No. 6 Duke had been cruising along, barely threatened while
making more than half its shots in three straight games. So staring
at a 22-7 deficit early Saturday was a jolt to the Blue Devils.
”We were not poised at all,” guard Jasmine Thomas said. ”We
kind of got a little rattled and had to take a minute and calm down
and gain composure.”
Duke never got into a shooting rhythm and Duke’s big guns had to
play a lot of minutes, but Thomas’ 19 points and her big plays down
the stretch helped the Blue Devils fend off pesky Charlotte 61-55
on Saturday to remain unbeaten.
”I thought our senior leadership was incredible,” coach Joanne
P. McCallie said.
Krystal Thomas added 10 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and
eight blocks and Karima Christmas had 12 points and 11 rebounds for
the Blue Devils (6-0), who trailed 38-30 with 17:12 left before an
18-2 run to take the lead for good.
Duke connected on just 30 percent from the field and missed 11
of 14 3-point attempts, but committed only nine turnovers in its
first test of the season.
”I feel like this is a great game for us to learn from as a
team,” McCallie said. ”You find yourself in a tough, ugly game,
you’ve got to be a little bit tougher and you’ve got to find a way.
And finding a way is a sign of an excellent team, a special
After Jai Forney banked in a 3-pointer to get Charlotte within
56-55, Krystal Thomas scored a transition layup on a nifty feed
from Jasmine Thomas with 1:18 left. Jasmine Thomas’ steal on the
next possession led to Chelsea Gray’s free throw with 28 seconds
”When the game was on the line their guards took over. Jasmine,
in particular, took over the game,” Charlotte coach Karen Aston
said. ”We didn’t really have an answer for their penetration. …
She made plays when the game was on the line and that’s what
Kendria Holmes scored 15 points, Shannon McCallum added 11
despite foul trouble and Epiphany Woodson had 10 points, six
rebounds and six assists for Charlotte (3-2), which missed 12 of 20
free throws to slow a late comeback attempt.
”This came down to some pretty basic fundamental things:
blocking out and shooting free throws,” Aston said. ”They were on
the better end of both of those subjects. That was the difference
in the game, no question.”
Holmes hit a 3-pointer and had a three-point play in an 8-0 run
just after halftime to put Charlotte ahead 38-30. Christmas
responded with a 3-pointer, layup and two free throws in a spurt
that put Duke on top 48-40 with 9:36 to go.
The Blue Devils, who had not won by fewer than 13 points in
their first five games and were coming off a 93-55 thrashing of
Pittsburgh on Wednesday, found themselves in a surprisingly deep
Three days after scoring a career-high 15 points against
Pittsburgh, Shay Selby started ahead of Chloe Wells. But the new
lineup struggled early.
Charlotte started 6 of 7 from 3-point range while Duke missed 15
its first 18 shots. McCallie’s early timeout didn’t do any good as
the 49ers led 14-2 and 22-7 before Duke turned to a smothering
trapping zone defense.
With Charlotte’s looks not as open on the outside and with
Krystal Thomas gobbling up shots in the lane, Duke held the 49ers
without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes in a 21-3 run before
McCallum’s 3 tied it at 28 at halftime.
Charlotte, which reached the WNIT last season, shot just 31
percent from the field and was outrebounded 55-50.
”We didn’t come out with the defensive intensity that we pride
ourselves in most games,” Krystal Thomas said. ”It took some time
but we finished it out.”