Blue Devils Advance After Beating Seminoles 75-57
March 7, 2009
Two games of the ACC Tournament have exposed one obvious deficiency with the Duke Blue Devils: They have no experience in tough times.
Third-seeded Duke jumped on Florida State as it controlled Virginia a night earlier, getting 24 points in the paint in the first half en route to a 75-57 victory in the semifinals. The Devils (26-4) have trailed for all of 15 seconds in 80 minutes of tourney play, and those came in the first minute today.
As problems go, this is one to have.
“We have a very direct and focused goal,” senior guard Abby Waner said after going 3-for-4 from the 3-point line. “We have seen our talent. We know how good we can be. Therefore, no outside expectations are greater than ours. And now it’s coming together.”
The Devils, who defeated Virginia 76-53 on Friday, aren’t the first team in tournament history to earn lopsided wins in the quarters and semis. Of the 64 finalists in the event, 12 have now won each of their first two games by 18 or more points. But how many have done it against nationally ranked opposition? Duke is now 11-3 against the RPI’s Top 50 this season, and it will play Maryland for the championship on Sunday.
Nine Blue Devils played double-digit minutes, but none logged more than 29. Carrem Gay, who had 13 points, combined with Karima Christmas, who had 10 off the bench, to take care of the post work. Duke supplemented that with 7-for-12 shooting from downtown and is now 18-of-30 in the tournament.
The Devils had no problem in finding motivation. It remembered vividly an 82-75 overtime loss in Tallahassee on Jan. 29 and secretly hoped for another shot at the Seminoles (25-7). That DVD made for interesting viewing.
“There were so many (necessary) areas of betterment, it was nauseating,” Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Redemption came with the help of an 18-2 first-half run on which 15 of the points came in the lane or on the foul line. Duke, which owned a 40-15 lead on Virginia, was up 40-18 on the Noles at halftime.
FSU did make an impressive run to start the second half but couldn’t climb closer than nine. The Noles were 20-for-59 from the field, but they’ve got company. McCallie’s two Duke teams have allowed the opponent to shoot 40 percent or better from the floor only 16 times in 65 games.
Now the Terps and Devils will meet for the 12th time in the past four years. The Terps own a 6-5 lead, including the classic overtime NCAA title game of 2006.
“I won’t say I like Maryland by any means,” Waner said. “But that’s what’s great about the ACC. It’s not just Duke and Carolina. I’m not going to say I have a vendetta for just Maryland.”