Thomas leads balanced effort as Blue Devils whip Georgia Southern | Sports

Thomas leads balanced effort as Blue Devils whip Georgia Southern

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Blue Devil Joy Cheek goes for a layup in Duke's Thursday night victory; Cheek, along with the rest of the starters, scored in double figures against Georgia Southern. (Photo by Rob Rowe)
  • Blue Devil Joy Cheek goes for a layup in Duke's Thursday night victory; Cheek, along with the rest of the starters, scored in double figures against Georgia Southern. (Photo by Rob Rowe)

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke comes into its women's basketball home opener against Georgia Southern with a little chip on its shoulder.

The Blue Devils (1-1) were No. 6 in the Associated Press' preseason poll, but are now in the No. 11 spot after a 95-77 loss at Texas A&M on Sunday.

It's going to be a contest of strategies tonight, as the Blue Devils want to press and Georgia Southern likes a 2-3 zone.

To no surprise, the Blue Devils win it 69-42, improving to 2-1 while GSU is 1-1.

The Eagles make some noise early, going up 5-4 on a 3-pointer from Jamie Navarro with 17:37 left in the first half. But then Joy Cheek goes to work for Duke, scoring all of her 10 points on the night as the Blue Devils respond with a 14-0 run.

Duke leads 35-17 at halftime and never looks back. The largest lead is 58-26 on a follow shot from Keturah Jackson with 12:30 left in the game.

Coach P rallies her troops during a media timeout in Duke's Thursday night contest vs. Georgia Southern. (Photo by Rob Rowe)
  • Coach P rallies her troops during a media timeout in Duke's Thursday night contest vs. Georgia Southern. (Photo by Rob Rowe)

Jasmine Thomas' 12 points lead Duke in an extremely balanced effort. Bridgette Mitchell, Krystal Thomas and Jackson add 11 points apiece to Cheek's 10. For Jackson, it's just the fifth double-figure scoring night, and she adds a career-high five assists.

J'Lisia Ogburn, who has been leading GSU in every major category, is the Eagles' only player in double figures with 11 points of her own.

Duke outshoots the visitors 43.5 percent to 34.0 and wins the rebounding battle by a whopping 46-22. The Blue Devils commit 17 turnovers to GSU's 24.

They said it ...

McCallie: ""It was a good game to work on things and test ourselves and get better," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I thought (Jackson's) energy was exceptional. I'm so amazed at K.J., really. She's not supposed to be playing right now (after summer surgery on her left rotator cuff), and I really don't think enough has been said about that. She means a lot to our team because she has so much energy. And I like the rebounds. The balanced scoring is something I think works in our favor, and I think we can do a lot more there."

Jasmine Thomas: "It's always good when everyone contributes. That's something we know the team is capable of, having people put numbers on the board. It's not something we emphasize; it's something we expect."

Jackson: ""I just wanted to step up and be a leader, being that I'm a fifth-year senior. I feel like I owe it to the team to always be aggressive no matter what side of the court I'm playing on."

What does it all mean?

That Duke seems to be right back on track after its loss, and that Georgia Southern was competitive and kept coach Rusty Cram pretty happy.

Stars of the game

1. Jackson

2. Jasmine Thomas.

3. Mitchell.

Play of the game

Cheek's three-point play to make it 15-5 with 14:06 left in the first half.

Series record

Duke leads 2-1.

Streaks

Duke: Won 1.

GSU: Lost 1.

On deck

Duke vs. UNC Charlotte, Monday, 7 p.m.

Georgia Southern at Auburn, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Duke's Joy Cheek is interviewed after the game by the Duke Radio Network's Morgan Patrick. (Photo by Rob Rowe)
  • Duke's Joy Cheek is interviewed after the game by the Duke Radio Network's Morgan Patrick. (Photo by Rob Rowe)

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