Christmas helps Blue Devils overcome slow start and hold off BYU | Sports

Christmas helps Blue Devils overcome slow start and hold off BYU



Dukes Karima Christmas throws the ball up, getting fouled by Mindy Bonham.
  • Photo by Chelsea Gunter
  • Duke's Karima Christmas throws the ball up, getting fouled by Mindy Bonham.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke unveils its highly-touted freshman class tonight, as Joanne P. McCallie’s defending ACC champion Blue Devils entertain a tough challenger from Brigham Young.

The Blue Devils finished 30-6 and finished in the Elite Eight last season, and are ranked No. 6 by the Associated Press and picked to repeat as ACC champion.

BYU won 22 games last season. It’s only the teams’ second meeting, as Duke won by 20 here way back in 1987.

The Blue Devils’ three seniors — preseason All-ACC Jasmine Thomas, wing Karima Christmas and Jasmine Thomas — will start along with forward Kathleen Scheer and freshman point guard Chloe Wells. Scheer, who has been well down the bench in her first two seasons on the team, will make her first start as a Blue Devil.

Christmas comes out hard early, finishing with 20 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 69-54 win.

Blue Devil Jasmine Thomas gives commands to her team.
  • Photo by Chelsea Gunter
  • Blue Devil Jasmine Thomas gives commands to her team.
Duke leads 30-23 at halftime behind 16 points from Christmas, who scores 16 of the Blue Devils’ first 22 points.

Using full-court pressure BYU bursts out to the early lead, going up 8-0 on a Mindy Bonham 3-pointer from the right corner at 17:28.

The Blue Devils take their first lead at 22-21 when Christmas hits the second of two free throws at 4:19.

Duke shoots just 25.7 percent in the first half, but is 11-for-18 from the free-throw line to the Cougars’ 2-for-5.

Duke’s biggest lead is 61-43 on a Jasmine Thomas free throw with 3:24 to play.

Christmas finishes with eight rebounds. Jasmine Thomas recovers from an 0-for-7 start from the field to score 14 points and tie her career high with 11 rebounds. Scheer adds 13 points.

Bonham leads BYU with 12 points.

Wells leads the freshmen with nine points and three rebounds.

Duke shoots 38.6 percent from the floor to 27.9 for the visitors and wins the rebound battle by a whopping 52-37.

The Blue Devils commit 22 turnovers to 20 for the Cougars.

They said it …

Coach McCallie: ““Just a great, hard fought battle. BYU is an excellent, excellent team, and I’m very pleased that our team was able to force them into 20 percent shooting and take them out of the rhythm of their game, because they are very, very good. I would project them for the Mountain West winner this year relative to what they have on their team. I like their team’s fight. I thought there was great aggressiveness. Jasmine (Thomas) getting 11 rebounds, nine defensive. That talks to a certain alertness on the floor, which is outstanding. I thought Chloe (Wells) did some nice things as well, defensively and otherwise. I think Karima (Christmas) was very aggressive too. We had a lot of people attack. I know we can play a lot better. We all know we can play a lot better. I think we are motivated by that for the next game.”

BYU coach Jeff Judkins: “First of all we’re excited to be here. We had a great opportunity. We appreciate the classy organization that Duke is. I knew it would be. It’s really wonderful for my team to be able to see what program we want to head towards. I know the girls really enjoyed being here. We got to, of course, play here and we went to North Carolina to watch their game last night, so it was a lot of fun for us. I’m proud of my team. I thought we came out played really well and then we just wore down. Their depth, their quickness, and just the physical way they played I think affected us down the end.”

Christmas: “I just kept on thinking to attack. Not settling for outside shots, just keep
going in. Eventually you’ll get a call and go to the line and get an easy
basket. It was important to be in attack mode.”

Jasmine Thomas: ““It’s been a while since we played a team that presses the way we do. It was a bit of a shock at first, but it’s not something we didn’t prepare for. That’s something that we’ll have to continue to get better at, but I think throughout the course of the game it’s something we got better at.”

What does it all mean?
That Duke can use a variety of weapons to overcome a slow start.

Stars of the game
1. Christmas.
2. Jasmine Thomas.
3. Scheer.

Play of the game
Christmas’ three-point play to tie the score at 21-21 with 4:42 left in the first half.

All-time series
Duke leads 2-0.

Duke: Won 1.
BYU: Lost 2.

Up next
Duke vs. Southern California, Monday, 7 p.m.
BYU at Illinois-Chicago, Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Coach P casts her sights on the floor as the Blue Devils win this one, 69-54.
  • Photo by Chelsea Gunter
  • Coach P casts her sights on the floor as the Blue Devils win this one, 69-54.

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