According to conventional wisdom, taking on a top-ten team without your star point guard shouldn’t be easy, but the Blue Devils heaved a big, metaphorical bite of the thumb at conventional wisdom for the second straight game, cruising by the No. 8 Maryland Terrapins, 75-59.
When the Blue Devils lost Chelsea Gray a week ago, many didn’t hesitate to cast them off. How can a team survive the ACC and the NCAA Tournament without one of their key players?
We can’t be sure if Duke has found a concrete recipe that will succeed in the long run, but they appear to have one answer for now: parity. And so the Blue Devils, armed with the balance of a thousand freaking gymnasts, shared the living crap out of the ball, resulting in four different starters scoring at least fifteen points. Even Alexis Jones, who took a game-high nineteen shots, dished out assists like they were turkey on Thanksgiving. That is a terrible simile, but I do not refrain, because it was actually that smooth of a passing display. Jones finished with nine, a game high, and was one of the main reasons why Duke picked up their second straight win since the loss of Gray, both of which have been against ranked teams.
Haley Peters and Tricia Liston also added 15 points each and Elizabeth Williams collected seven rebounds and poured in a game-high sixteen points.
While a lot of praise can be thrown at Duke’s offense, their performance on the other side of the ball should receive every bit as much of attention. Putting together a near flawless effort, the Blue Devils forced the Terrapins into 16 turnovers while allowing them to shoot just 42.6% from the field and 16.7% from beyond the arc, both well below Maryland’s average.
The only place the Blue Devils didn’t dominate was on the boards, but that was likely because they didn’t want Maryland players to completely hate themselves after the game.
With the win, Duke improved to 16-0 while the Maryland Terrapins fell to 13-3 in ACC play. With just two games remaining in conference play for both teams, the Blue Devils have officially clinched the ACC regular season title.
Not bad for a group that everyone was all set to write off just a few days ago.