by Mike Potter
Wingate went 14-14 last season under coach Barbara Nelson, and will be a massive underdog to the No. 6 Blue Devils in tonight’s contest.
There are about 1,000 fans in the house as the Blue Devils take the floor. They’ll be without the services of highly-touted freshman Richa Jackson, out for a violation of team rules, and both Allison Vernerey and freshman Chelsea Gray are sitting out with injuries not expected to keep them out of any regulation contests. Senior guard Jasmine Thomas won’t start tonight because of a lesser team rules violation, but will play.
Wingate is also without a key starter in last season’s leading scorer Kurie Washington, who is out with a short-term injury.
The underdogs stay competitive early, but Duke pulls away in the second half to win 88-44.
Wingate fights bravely in the opening minutes, tying the score for the last time at 11-11 on a Tish Logan jumper with 11:10 left in the half.
But after Wingate cuts it to 19-15 on a pair of Sarah Wollett free throws, the Blue Devils go on a seven-point run including a three-point play from Karima Christmas followed by a couple of Jasmine Thomas layups. Duke leads 39-23 at halftime and steadily pulls away from the outgunned visitors.
Jasmine Thomas leads Duke with 23 points, followed by Kathleen Scheer with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Christmas with 17 points and Krystal Thomas with 13 points and a whopping 22 rebounds.
C.C. Brooks leads Wingate with 10 points.
Duke shoots 42.7 percent to 27.5, out-rebounds the Bulldogs 58-30 and commits 18 turnovers to the visitors’ 30.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “There were some good things for us out there, better in the second half than the first, and some more aggressive rebounding. We were trying some different combinations. We’re really excited, ready for the next practice and still have a long way to go. Kathleen was outstanding because she was so aggressive, both defensively and offensively, going to the boards hard. It was great to have Jasmine out there, particularly in the second half. I thought Kathleen and Jasmine had great games, and I really appreciated the rebounding by Krystal.”
Wingate coach Barbara Nelson: “We were smothered (by Duke’s defense.) We were smothered and covered. I felt like we were hash browns at Waffle House. … As I told the girls as we were preparing for this for the last two days — we scrimmaged (Presbyterian) on Sunday and then spent Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for Duke — the goal was not so much to come in here and win as to come in here and be competitive. I think it’s OK for us to recognize where we are and be proud of the fact we were competitive and worked hard and never quit. And I thought we made them play hard down the stretch.”
Jasmine Thomas: “The chemistry is coming together. It’s going to be a process for us because we have so many talented players who are just all learning how to play together. You see that and we should have way more assists. We should be scoring more comfortably. But that’s going to be a process and we’re working on it.”
Scheer: “I’ve just been trying to go hard to the boards, get good shots and not trying to force too much. I’ve been forcing the ‘3’ and it hasn’t been falling. I’m just trying to mix it up a little bit and get my teammates the ball, too. When my ‘3’ isn’t falling I’ve got to mix it up a little bit.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke can get the job done very well with eight players against a lesser opponent, and that Wingate should be pretty good in the South Atlantic Conference.
Stars of the game
1. Jasmine Thomas.
3. Krystal Thomas.
Play of the game
Jasmine Thomas’ alley-oop bucket from Shea Selby that made it 19-11 with 7:58 left in the first.
Duke vs. Carson-Newman (exh.), Nov. 7, 2 p.m.
Wingate vs. Belmont Abbey, Nov. 13, 4 p.m.