Duke Cruises Past Virginia
March 6, 2009
It's safe to say the Duke Blue Devils were tired of watching everybody else in this league do their thing.
The final team to take the court in the ACC Tournament, third-seeded Duke made quick work of No. 6 Virginia tonight in a 76-53 quarterfinal victory. The Devils jumped out to leads of 17-2 and 35-13, compelling Cavalier coach Debbie Ryan to burn three of her five time outs in the first 16 minutes.
"You get antsy," guard Abby Wagner said. "You watch a lot of basketball. You hear about a lot of basketball. And you just want somebody to take it out on."
That task fell to the Caves, who have lost 16 straight and 21 of 22 to the Blue Devils.
Duke earned its usual first-round bye with a top-four finish in the regular-season standings, and it drew the late game tonight as the third seed. The wait did not disrupt the Devils' performance.
When Wagner fired up a long 3-pointer and knocked it home, Duke led 40-15, a score common to tennis but not to basketball. Asked to estimate the distance on the shot, she said, "Let's go with 28 (feet.) Just to be safe."
The Caves did cut the Duke lead to 12 briefly in the second half, but the Devils quickly reasserted control. And that might prove valuable over the weekend. No Devil had to log more than 28 minutes for the game or 13 in the second half.
That's part of the recipe for many championship teams, and it's a luxury that not everybody had on this day. Maryland trailed Wake Forest until the final four minutes of its eventual two-point victory, and Clemson gave North Carolina a challenging first half.
"It's very important, being that we'd have to play three back-to-back games," said reserve forward Katonah Jackson, who contributed six points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.
The Devils (25-4) have beaten their past six quarterfinal foes by 13 or more points and are in the semis for the 15th straight year. The Cavaliers (23-9), who anticipate a good seed in the NCAA tournament, have been eliminated by Duke or North Carolina in 11 of the past 12 years.