by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke will take on rebuilding Clemson tonight in another ACC contest, and the big test for the No. 3 Blue Devils will be to avoid “looking ahead.”
Duke is coming off the sixth biggest comeback in NCAA women’s basketball history, recovering from a 20-point second-half deficit to knock off N.C. State 65-64 on Sunday in Raleigh. And the next game after tonight is the Blue Devils’ nationally televised game at defending national champion Connecticut on Monday.
Duke has won 18 straight home games and 13 straight in the series with Clemson (9-12, 2-4), which has lost 50 straight games against ranked teams.
The Tigers, under first-year coach Itoro Coleman, have a Triangle player on the roster in junior point guard Bryelle Smith out of Cary Academy.
Duke responds to it all with its most comfortable ACC victory in a long time, rolling to a 92-37 blowout.
It’s a contest for only a couple of minutes, as Kirstyn Wright scores the first bucket for Clemson before the Blue
Duke has a 24-0 run late in the first half, ending in Lindsey Mason’s layup for the Tigers with 1:39 to go that makes it 53-12.
The Blue Devils lead 59-12 at the break behind 12 points from Jasmine Thomas and 10 from Chelsea Gray while every Duke player has scored at halftime. Wright has 10 at the half for the Tigers.
Duke shoots 59.0 percent in the first half to Clemson’s 17.9, leads the rebound battle 25-14 and forces 19 turnovers to eight of its own.
Duke’s biggest lead is 58, at 82-24 following freshman Chloe Wells’ 15-foot jumper with 8:45 left.
Jasmine Thomas leads Duke with 14 points and seven assists, followed by Tricia Liston with 12 points. Krystal
Thomas has 11 points and 11 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season, while Wells adds a season-high 11 points and Gray 10.
Wright leads all scorers with 15 points for the Tigers.
Duke shoots 50 percent for the game to Clemson’s 26.4, wins the rebound battle 40-35 and forces 36 turnovers to 18 of its own.
They said it …
McCallie: “Just a really dominant first half. A terrific first half. We got lots of contributions from many, many people. And it’s a terrific defensive effort to hold any team to 12 in the first half. I thought we got a lot better. We had all sorts of good balance in terms of steals and assists and scoring. We’ll go from here. We reacted to the whole N.C. State game, the whole thing.”
Coleman: “We actually weren’t at our best today. I thought Duke did a really good job of pressing, and that definitely bothered us. They really did a good job of transition defense. They scored 39 points off of our turnovers and did a really good job defensively tonight. We prepared for it, we just didn’t execute. Most of the teams we’ve played against have pressed us. A lot of the turnovers that we had were unforced. We really couldn’t get in sync.”
Jasmine Thomas: “(Fast starts) weren’t just something we’ve been talking about since last game. We’ve been talking about that for a while, getting off to a good start in games. And I think our defensive intensity is what sparked that tonight. We were getting easy buckets, running the floor, moving the ball and finding the open player. That’s something we’re not consistent with.”
Krystal Thomas: “We just take it one game at a time. This is the ACC. This is our conference. Each game we play in our conference is going to be a tough game, so there is no looking on to the next game. Our conference is something we have to take care of before we can do anything in March.”
Play of the game
Liston’s layup from Shay Selby to make it 23-7 with 11:46 left in the first half.
Duke leads 33-32.
Duke: Won 20.
Clemson: Lost 1.
Clemson vs. Virginia, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Duke at Connecticut, Monday, 7 p.m.