No. 8 Duke 71, Maryland 59

Karima Christmas started with jabs from far away. She finished

with a knockout.

Christmas scored a career-high 25 points and made two big plays

down the stretch to help No. 8 Duke defeat Maryland 71-59 on

Sunday.

“Karima was outstanding,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“She was attacking at all times, very aggressive, very confident

and showed a tremendous amount of leadership on the floor, which

was so much fun to watch.”

Joy Cheek added 17 points for Duke (23-4, 11-1 Atlantic Coast

Conference), which closed the game on a 17-6 run over the final

four minutes.

Lori Bjork scored 14 points to lead Maryland (18-9, 5-7), which

trailed 36-33 at halftime. Lynetta Kizer had 13 points and 13

rebounds, and Anjale Barrett scored 11 points for the

Terrapins.

Maryland, which trailed by as many as 10 points in the first

half, led 46-43 with 13 minutes remaining.

“I’m really proud of our young team,” said Maryland coach

Brenda Frese, who has one senior and no juniors active on her

roster. “The first 36 minutes, we were there. The last four

minutes, you saw veterans for Duke step up and provide great

leadership.”

Christmas shot 7 for 13 from the field, made a career-high four

3-pointers and added four steals to help the Blue Devils get their

fifth consecutive win. She entered the game having made 2 of 22

3-point attempts in her last 12 games, but she was 3 for 3 midway

through the first half against Maryland.

“I think I just stayed focused,” Christmas said. “If I was

open and had the opportunity to shoot, I just shot.”

The Blue Devils led 54-53 with 4:05 to play before Christmas

made two big plays inside to help them pull away.

First, she grabbed an offensive rebound and shoveled the ball to

Cheek, who turned the pass into a three-point play. Then Christmas

delivered a three-point play after rebounding her own missed shot,

putting Duke ahead 64-55 with 1:47 left.

The Blue Devils won despite getting just eight points on

3-for-15 shooting from leading scorer Jasmine Thomas. Thomas became

the 26th player in Duke history to score 1,000 career points when

she made a layup after a steal early in the first half.

“If you would have told me before we started the game that we

held Jasmine to eight points and we were going to lose, I wouldn’t

have believed you,” Frese said. “I thought Christmas was

spectacular.”

Cheek, who also had four assists, also busted out of a shooting

slump. She had not scored more than 10 points in a game since Jan.

7, a span of 11 contests, but had 11 points by halftime against the

Terps.

Cheek said she and her teammates, who were playing less than 48

hours after their 64-50 win at Georgia Tech on Friday night, gained

a burst of energy just before the opening tip.

A few Maryland players bumped some Blue Devils on their way to

the bench before the national anthem, setting the tone for what

would be a physical game. With Duke’s players facing away from the

basket that Maryland’s players had just finished using, a few

Terrapins forced their way through the shoulder-to-shoulder line

Duke had formed.

“That ignited the fire even more,” Cheek said.