by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke will get a serious resiliency test tonight.
The visitor is No. 18 Miami (20-2, 6-1 ACC), which is having one of the best seasons in school history heading into the matchup with the Blue Devils (20-1, 6-0).
The Hurricanes are coached by former Duke All-American Katie Meier.
So much for sentiment about an old player coming back — everybody scores for Duke, which breaks away over the final 10 minutes of the first half and rolls to an 82-58 victory.
The contest is very competitive early before Duke’s depth begins to take its toll. There are four ties and nine lead changes, the last of those when Haley Peters hits a jumper off Allison Vernerey’s assist to make it 20-19 with 8:49 left in the half.
Duke leads 43-32 at the break behind nine points from freshman Richa Jackson who is making her first collegiate start. ACC scoring leader Riquna Williams already has 19 at the break for Miami, but Duke is leading in every major category at the break.
The Blue Devils shoot 48.7 percent to 39.3 for the Hurricanes over the first 20 minutes, while leading the rebound battle 23-16 and committing eight turnovers to Miami’s 12.
And the second half is, as they say, all Duke.
The Blue Devils’ biggest lead is 27, on Tricia Liston’s layup from Jasmine Thomas to make it 80-53 with 1:09 to go.
Peters comes on strong down the stretch to lead Duke with 15 points. Karima Christmas has 14 points and Jackson a season-high 13, with each pulling down nine rebounds and Christmas contributing six assists. Jackson’s double-figure night means that all 11 Blue Devils have had at least one this season.
Williams finishes with 27 points, while Shenise Johnson is the other Miami player in double figures with 12.
Duke outshoots the visitors 54.7 percent to 32.3 and wins the rebound battle 42-31. The Blue Devils commit 19 turnovers to 20 for Miami.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was a great basketball game, a very physical basketball game. Our attack offensively was very, very strong, and defensively — once we sorted out (Riquna Williams) a little bit I think there was some great team defense. I’m really excited about how hard our team played and I live how physical (Christmas and Jackson and Peters) played. They really fought out there and their stats show that, but it’s because of their mindset. It was a really good game for us. Miami is an excellent team and I thought we got better tonight, and that’s always good.”
Meier: “Obviously the depth was key. They went to their bench and they were fine, and we went to our bench and really struggled. So obviously that’s a big part of it. I ask a lot out of my starters and it’s no secret. I think when we went, our two post players went into foul trouble of course. But that’s something we have to manage. I thought Duke’s bench was phenomenal tonight, just phenomenal.”
Jackson: “In the beginning (of the season) I was going through some stuff. I just tried to stay in there and stay hard, fight, come out with a lot of heart and it’s been paying off lately.”
Christmas: “I was just being patient and letting the game come to me. I’ve been struggling, but I try not to let it keep me down. I just came out here and tried to attack and try to do the things I need to do for us to win.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke certainly knows how to bounce back from an embarrassing loss. And that Miami needs to recover quickly to face its killer final six games.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Krystal Thomas’ layup from Christmas to make it 35-24 with 3:47 left in the first.
Duke leads 8-0.
Duke: Lost 1.
Miami: Won 2.
Duke at UNC, Monday, 7 p.m.
Miami vs. Maryland, Feb. 10, 7 p.m.