No. 4 Duke defeats No. 22 Women's Basketball, 80-52
DURHAM, N.C. -- Junior guard Wanisha Smith had a game-high 18 points to lead four Blue Devil starters in double-figure scoring, as No. 4 Duke handed the No. 22 Texas Longhorns an 80-52 loss in women's basketball action Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium in front of 7,016.
The loss snaps Texas' win streak at four games, as UT goes to 7-2. The Blue Devils remain undefeated, moving to 9-0. Duke also remains undefeated in the month of December, dating back to 2001, as the Blue Devils have won 30 straight games in December since a Dec. 27, 2001 loss to Tennessee.
Texas had three players in double-figure scoring, with a pair of redshirt freshman-- forward Ernesia Williams (13 points) and point guard Carla Cortijo (11 points)- leading the way. Sophomore guard Erika Arriaran added 10 points. Senior forward Tiffany Jackson (eight points, game-high tying eight rebounds and game-high tying four blocks) snapped a 16-game streak of double-figure scoring games.
Texas entered the game No. 8 nationally in defense (allowing 49.4 ppg) while the Blue Devils are No. 2 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 44.5 ppg and No. 2 in scoring margin (+37.9) with the sixth-best scoring offense in the nation (at 82.4 ppg).
Joining Smith in double-figures for the Blue Devils were senior guard Lindsey Harding (14 points), sophomore guard Abby Waner (13) and 6-7 senior post Alison Bales (10 points). Waner also had a game-best of six steals.
Down 40-27 at intermission, the Longhorns watched Duke push its lead to 20 (49-29), as UT turned the ball over six times in the first 3:55.
The closest the Longhorns would get down the stretch was 17 points, 58-41 on a Bailey drive with 12:40 to go.
Texas shot 39.2 percent for the game (20-51), while Duke hit 38.6 percent of its shots. The difference was in free throws and turnovers, as UT committed a season-high 33 turnovers (to Duke's 15). On the foul line, Duke was 22-for-30, while the Longhorns made just nine trips to the charity stripe, making seven free throws.
Duke also dominated in points off turnovers (29-10) and rebounding (44-35).
In the first half, the Longhorns were hurt by committing 15 fouls, which resulted in the Blue Devils going to the free throw line 25 times in the opening half, converting on 19 of them.
Conversely, the Longhorns were just 0-1 in free throws in the half. Texas also turned the ball over 18 times in the first half - the most turnovers in a half on the year, while Duke had 11 steals and held a 14-2 edge in points off turnovers.
Texas opened the game with seven unanswered points on opening jumpers from Erneisha Bailey and two by Williams. Duke came back, behind five points from Smith and four from Bales, to tie the game at 15-15 on two Smith free throws with 9:50 to play. After a UT turnover on the Longhorns' next possession, Bales made a layup to give Duke the lead for good, 17-15 with 9:22 left in the half.
In the final 9:22, the Blue Devils built a lead by making the most of their time at the foul line, going 13 for 15 from the line down the stretch.
Duke made their move with seven and one half minutes left. Up by one (21-20), the Blue Devils outscored UT 19-7 to end the half. Of those 19 points, 11 came at the foul line. Texas converted three of its final eight shots in the half, and cut the Duke lead at intermission to 13 (40-27) on a Carla Cortijo 3-pointer from the wing in the final seconds.
In the first period, Smith led the way for Duke with 11 points as the Blue Devils shot 43 percent from the floor, hitting 10 of 34 shots, while the Longhorns made 30 percent of their shots (12-28).
Texas now takes a week break for fall semester final examinations, and returns to action next Sunday (Dec. 17) against No. 6 Tennessee in a 12:30 p.m. (Central) game in Austin. The game will be broadcast on FSN (FOX Sports Net).
This will be the second year in a row that the Longhorns play Duke and Tennessee in back-to-back games. There is only one other team (outside the SEC or ACC) which faces both Duke and Tennessee this year in non-conference games-- Old Dominion.
DUKE POSTGAME QUOTES
On the defensive plan for Tiffany Jackson: We were just one-on-one in the post. We had Carrem [Gay] on her part of the time, Ali[son Bales] was on her part of the time, and all of our guards were supposed to help in except for whomever was on [Erika] Arriaran because she's such a good shooter. Tiffany's a good passer as well, so we didn't want to leave Arriaran open, but I thought our guards did a really nice job digging in. We know she likes to put the ball on the floor, and she does really good job creating, but sometimes it can get them into trouble as well.
On dominating despite a bad shooting night: The great thing is we're finding ways to win, and we know it all starts with our defense. If we're not hitting our outside shoots then we usually do a good job going inside to Ali. If they're double teaming Ali she usually finds out outside players. They're a good defense team; they put a lot of pressure up in the passing lanes, and when they do that then you've got to go back door and go to the basket, and I think that's that we did.
On playing Rutgers, Vanderbilt, and Texas this week: I guess I thought the final scores would be closer. I'm just really proud of my team; it's a young team, yet they've really shown that they have the killer instinct. Sometimes when you're young you can get up and then you let leads evaporate. You lose your focus and your energy. I think the team this team has proven over this little three game stretch is that they're able to get good teams down and keep them down. I think we have been tested. We've seen match-up zones, pressure man, and sagging man. We've seen a lot of different things, and I think we've responded to everything we've seen.
On having an attacking mindset: I wanted to attack the basket, but I knew from previous games that they probably were scouting that and said I would be out of control, so I was trying to be under control when I was going to the hoop. I was just lucky enough to find openings in the defense and get to the free throw line.
On being able to steal in transition: In transition it's sometimes a little bit easier because the other team is out of control too, so it's easier to stop the transition sometimes than on set plays.
On what the team has learned from the last three games: I think chemistry has given us more trust in our teammates and we're able to read each other, and that obviously will help us progress as a team. But knowing that we can play this way against teams of this caliber gives us confidence, not false confidence by any means, but I think we're feeling pretty good about the way we're playing right now but we know we still have a long way to go.
On a slow start in the game: I wasn't really surprised at our initial shots because I knew they were capable of doing that. We just needed to relax and run our sets all the way through. After one or two passes the shot was going up, so once we started moving the ball around and reversing the ball back and forth, we got better shots and had more control of the game.
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
On Duke's pressure defense: I think that caused us to lose our confidence and to lose our poise. We started to do things that you can do against lesser teams. We started to gamble. We started to take hard shots. We got careless with the basketball. And, pretty much, we stopped trusting each other, and that's, I think, one of the things that happens with young teams. Tiffany [Jackson] is our only really experienced player and we're trying to figure out who we can count on and what they can do on a consistent basis.
On the production of Duke's guards: They put a lot of pressure on us. Their guards scored 50 points and that tells you that they were taking it to us aggressively and, at the same time, here's what I think happens a lot with inexperienced players in difficult situations. We started to have breakdowns on the defensive end because we got frustrated because we weren't scoring and that then sort of snowballs on us. I thought our defense was really solid early and then, when we had some difficulty scoring, we turned the ball over. Then we weren't as focused as we needed to be defensively and we just didn't show the patience to stay with the things that worked for us.
On Duke's ability to penetrate the Texas defense: Dribble penetration with a team as good as Duke is its going to be hard for anyone to contend with. Lindsey Harding is really, really quick. You have to work really hard to keep [Abby] Waner from getting open looks. We need improvement in every area. Our rebounding needed to improve. Tiffany [Jackson] is pretty much our rebounder, and we didn't do enough scrambling on the boards to keep them from getting second opportunities.
Senior forward Tiffany Jackson