by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke returns home smarting from its blowout loss at Maryland three days ago, facing what may be the biggest mismatch in the ACC this season.
The Hokies’ big accomplishment since December has been a 12-point road win over Clemson six days ago.
But Duke leads the series 16-2 and will be a prohibitive favorite today.
And that’s the way it works out. The Blue Devils dominate from the first TV timeout to the final buzzer and roll to a 90-40 victory.
The score is 7-7 following a Brittany Gordon layup for the Hokies at 15:27 before Duke goes on its knockout run.
The Blue Devils score 22 straight points, nine of them on a trio of Jasmine Thomas 3-pointers, to make it 29-7 before Elizabeth Basham breaks the string for the Hokies with a jumper at 7:23.
Duke leads 45-19 at the break after outshooting the visitors 40 percent to 30.8, leading the rebound battle 24-14 and committing just 10 turnovers to the Hokies’ 18.
And it gets worse after halftime. Duke’s biggest lead is the final score, following Haley Peters’ layup from Kathleen Scheer with five ticks left.
Let’s go to the superlatives.
Jasmine Thomas leads the Blue Devils with a season-high 27 points including 5-for-5 from outside the 3-point arc, followed by freshman Tricia Liston with a season-high 19 points and season-high six steals on her 19th birthday. Karima Christmas chips in 12. Krystal Thomas adds eight points to go with her career-high 17 rebounds.
Brittany Gordon paces the Hokies with 10 points.
Duke has to play the final 37:17 without freshman guard Chelsea Gray, who suffered a sprained left ankle.
The Blue Devils shoot 44.9 percent to 33.3 for the Hokies and win the rebound battle by a whopping 49-24. Duke turns the ball over 20 times to Virginia Tech’s 32.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “We showed great character today, and you want to be like that all the time. I know we’ve had some tough losses and we’ve had a lot of great wins as well, but you want to be in this mode all the time. We’ve got tough games coming up next week, and we come back (to practice) Tuesday and we want to have the same mindset, again the attack mode mindset. … There was a lot of hustle and smarts out there, and we’re really just trying to concentrate on our defenses and improve them throughout the game.”
Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger: “It was a tough one today for the Hokies. Turnovers and rebounds were the difference in the game. It’s hard when you find yourself not playing well. It’s easy to get frustrated, and we did and that’s disappointing.”
Jasmine Thomas: “I let myself get a little frustrated with my offense over the past six weeks, and I just came out today and relaxed. I missed a lot of layups and I didn’t let it get to me. I just kept attacking and trying to get in the paint, and it just got me into a rhythm.”
Liston: “Our seniors are great. In tough games and when we’ve been losing they keep the energy up, and in our huddles they’re still saying stuff and giving us advice, and after losses they’re not going to sugar-coat it for you. They’ll tell you what you did wrong. That really helps, hearing an honest opinion and not having someone baby you and let you get away with it.”
Stars of the game
1. Jasmine Thomas.
3. Krystal Thomas.
Play of the game
Christmas’ three-point play with 10:42 left to put Duke up 65-35.
Duke leads 17-2.
Duke: Won 1.
VT: Lost 2.
Duke at Virginia, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Virginia Tech at Maryland, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.