by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke comes home after a nine-day break, looking to keep the momentum going in the week before ACC play begins.
Tonight’s opponent is Atlantic 10 member Temple (7-5), which has won five of its last six games but is 0-5 all-time against the Blue Devils.
Duke has won 38 straight December home games heading into the contest.
And the Blue Devils keep the streak safe for another year at 39, but not before having to survive a 71-64 grinder.
Temple shows from the beginning it’s not going to be the victim of an early knockout.
Although Duke leads from the outset and goes up by as much as 23-15 on a Chloe Wells 3-pointer with 8:34 left in the half, the Owls come back to take a 31-30 lead at the half.
Wallace has 14 points in the opening 20 minutes, in which Duke outshoots the visitors 40.7 percent to 31.4 but gets outrebounded 26-15.
The Blue Devils then take control in the opening minutes of the second half, getting some breathing room with an 8-2 run ending on Krystal Thomas’ hook that makes it 38-31 at 15:57.
Temple cuts it to 40-38 on a Natasha Thames layup with 13:55 remaining. But Duke slowly establishes a working margin, taking its biggest lead on Kathleen Scheer’s layup from Selby that makes it 65-50 with 4:20 left.
But the Owls just won’t go away, going on an 11-2 run late to cut it to 68-64 on Shey Peddy’s layup with 25 seconds to go before Karima Christmas gets Duke’s last three points.
Duke’s 13-0 record is Joanne P. McCallie’s best season start as a head coach.
Christmas leads the Blue Devils by tying her season high of 20 points and her career best of 10 made free throws, and pulls down eight rebounds. Jasmine Thomas adds 13 points followed by Shay Selby with 12 — tying her career best with a 4-for-4 3-point shooting game — and Krystal Thomas also with 12.
Wilmington Laney product Qwedia Wallace paces the Owls with 21 points, followed by Satoria Bell with 16 off the bench and Peddy with 10.
Duke shoots 45.1 percent to Temple’s 37.7, and recovers in the second half to lose the rebound battle only 39-36. Each team has 21 turnovers. Duke has a season best 11 blocks, three from Jasmine Thomas.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “Obviously it was a physical game, a much better game this year than last. I think Temple is a lot better team this year in a lot of ways. In the second half we were more attacking, better rebounding and finding each other. I thought Karima was attacking throughout pretty strongly and really started being aggressive in the second half. And for Shay to come off the bench like she did and be so aggressive and confident and just lift the team like she did that’s very important to have. There were some very good things tonight, and most of them occurred in the second half.”
Temple coach Tonya Cardoza: “Early on we were able to get some post touches. When Victoria (Macaulay, who fouled out with three points) was out there, we were able to at least keep the defense honest and make them have to guard inside. And we did a really good job of keeping them off the offensive boards. We didn’t really allow any transition buckets. In the second half, they got a lot more offensive boards that they scored on and they were able to get out in transition. And we turned the ball over carelessly that led to easy baskets.”
Christmas: “We tried to come out in the second half and be a rebounding force. We were down in the first half in rebounding by double digits, so coming out there trying to get offense off the boards is what we really tried to do. We just had to let the game come to us. We were mad at ourselves because obviously we could play better in the first half than we did. At the same time (we knew) there was another half coming. There was another half for us to pick it up and just keep pushing forward.”
Selby: “They were leaving me open and my teammates were finding me. I just took the open shots. It’s definitely hard to shoot (3-pointers after coming in cold.) But you just have to have confidence and believe in yourself. ”
What does it all mean?
That Duke continues to find ways to win against good teams, and that Temple has a good shot to contend in the A-10.
Stars of the game
3. Krystal Thomas.
Play of the game
Krystal Thomas’ layup from Wells with 6:36 left to put Duke up 56-45.
Duke leads 6-0.
Duke: Won 13.
Temple: Lost 2.
Temple vs. Akron, Sunday, noon.
Duke vs. Kentucky, Tuesday, 7 p.m.