DURHAM, N.C. – It felt like old times again at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke had Lindsey Harding in the house, an Allison dominating the paint and a highly ranked team in deep trouble.
Jasmine Thomas scored 24 of her career-high 29 points during the second half and the 11th-ranked Blue Devils routed No. 3 Ohio State 83-67 on Thursday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Duke (6-1) outscored the Buckeyes 24-8 during a 6-minute stretch of the second half, then led by 19 while pulling away late and turning its 18th straight home victory into an unexpected blowout.
“Everything about the second half was much more aggressive,” coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Jantel Lavender had 20 points and 18 rebounds for Ohio State (8-1), which beat its first eight opponents by an average of 27 points but was held to fewer than 83 points for the first time this season.
These kinds of punishing performances became commonplace at Cameron three years ago when Harding ran the show and led Duke to a 30-0 start and a No. 1 ranking.
This time, Harding watched from the stands while her protégé, Thomas, put on a show and Allison Vernerey — a 6-foot-5 freshman who wears the same No. 43 jersey that star center Alison Bales wore during Harding’s era — teamed with 6-4 Krystal Thomas inside. Vernerey finished with a season-high 13 points in her first home game of national significance.
“That’s the kind of game I came for,” Vernerey said. “You don’t come for easy games.”
There isn’t much about the remaining schedule that’s easy for Duke, the only team to face the top three schools in The Associated Press Top 25. But the Blue Devils can’t help but like their chances against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Stanford if their junior point guard keeps playing like this.
“I just decided to attack the basket more,” Jasmine Thomas said. “I really didn’t get anything inside in the first half, so that was just a change in my mentality.”
Thomas, who had a triple-double last time out against Marquette, started the decisive burst with a 3-pointer, scored 10 points during the run and went coast-to-coast for the layup that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead, 59-49, with 11 minutes left.
“We should have made her take some tougher shots,” Buckeyes coach Jim Foster said.
After Bridgette Mitchell‘s jumper capped the burst and made it 61-49 with 10½ minutes left, Ohio State didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.
Tayler Hill scored 13 points, Brittany Johnson and Sarah Schulze had 11 apiece and Samantha Prahalis finished with 10 points for the Buckeyes. But the Buckeyes led twice for a total of about 3½ minutes, turned it over 21 times, were outscored 46-10 in the paint and got just two points from their bench.
“I just think they came at us, with just an attitude, like, ‘We were going to win this game,'” Prahalis said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t come back at them.”
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Georgia Southern (1-0) at Duke (1-1)
Nov. 19, 2009 • Durham, N.C. • Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314)
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. (EST) TV: None Radio: Duke ISP Network – 620 The Buzz with Steve Barnes (PBP), Morgan Patrick (Color) Twitter: DukeWBBSID & CoachPDuke Facebook: Official Duke Women’s Basketball Group Rankings: Duke (No. 11 – AP, No. 12 – ESPN/USA Today) Series: Tied 1-1 Head Coaches: Duke:Joanne P. McCallie (369-165, 18th Season) Georgia Southern: Rusty Cram (201-178, 14th Season)
Blue Devils to Host Georgia Southern on Thursday in Home Opener…
After opening the season with two road contests, the 11th-ranked Duke women’s basketball team (1-1) will host Georgia Southern (1-0) at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, in the 2009-10 home opener at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The first 1,000 fans in attendance on Thursday will receive a free women’s basketball schedule magnet.
Duke is ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press and No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today Division I Coaches Polls.
The Blue Devils will remain at home against Charlotte on Monday, Nov. 23 at 7:00 p.m., before traveling to Cancun, Mexico for the Caribbean Challenge from Nov. 26-27.
The Blue Devils return two starters off a squad which posted a 27-6 overall record and received a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago … Duke returns five student-athletes who started at least two games in 2008-09 … Duke returns 58.5 percent of its scoring and 63.3 percent of its rebounding from a year ago … junior Jasmine Thomas returns as Duke’s top three-point shooter as she hit 28 treys … as a team, Duke returns nine players and eight of the nine hit at least one three-pointer last season.
A Look At Georgia Southern…
Georgia Southern enters Thursday with a 1-0 record after defeating Brewton-Parker in the season opener on Nov. 13 by a score of 96-44. The Eagles are coached by Rusty Cram, who enters his 14th year with GSU. He owns an overall record of 201-178. Georgia Southern returns three starters and 10 letterwinners off last year’s squad, which posted a 16-14 record.
Returning starters for the Eagles include, Jessica Geiger, Jamie Navarro and J’Lisia Ogburn.
The Series With Georgia Southern …
Duke and Georgia Southern will meet for the third time in school history on Thursday. The series is tied, 1-1, with the last meeting coming on Dec. 21, 1984.
The meeting in 1984 was in the USF Holiday Classic in Tampa, Fla., with Duke winning 71-65. The other contest came on Jan. 9, 1982 in Statesboro, Ga., with the Eagles winning 64-58.
Storylines/Other Blue Devil Notes…
• Duke is averaging 18.5 steals a game through two contests so far. The Blue Devils are also playing big on the boards outrebounding opponents, 54-33 (+21).
• The 95 points allowed by Duke at Texas A&M on Nov. 15 was the most allowed by a Blue Devil team since the 104 points Connecticut scored on Nov. 13, 1998. The 56.9 field goal percentage by the Aggies on Sunday was the highest allowed by Duke since Florida State shot 57.4 percent on Feb. 4, 2004. The game broke Duke’s 51-game ACC winning streak.
• In the season opener on Friday, Duke scored 104 points and won by 69 points at Houston Baptist University. The 104 points was the most scored under a team led by Joanne P. McCallie at Duke and the 69-point win was the largest margin of victory for a McCallie-led Blue Devil squad. The Blue Devils also hit 55.7 percent from the field, which is the second-best field goal percentage for a Coach P led Duke team. The high was 56.0 percent against Virginia on March 6, 2009 in the ACC Tournament.
• The Blue Devils registered 26 steals at Houston Baptist, which was two steals shy of matching the Duke school record. The record is 28, which came against UNC Greensboro on Nov. 18, 2007.
• Sophomore Shay Selby saw her first action of the exhibition season on Sunday, Nov. 8 against Alaska Anchorage. She played eight minutes in the game. Selby is recovering from offseason knee surgery as well as mono in the preseason. She came off the bench to net seven points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in 10 minutes at Houston Baptist on Friday night.
• Senior Keturah Jackson was cleared for action as the Blue Devils opened the season on Nov. 13. Jackson came off the bench and played 17 minutes at Houston Baptist and was impressive. She scored eight points, had four steals, two rebounds and two steals, while hitting 3-of-4 shots from the field. She had shoulder surgery over the summer and has been going through rehab. Jackson was able to practice the last couple of weeks with light contact.
• The Coach P Radio Show will next take place on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 6:00 p.m. The show will be stationed at Satisfaction Restaurant in Durham at Brightleaf Square. Make sure you get there early to secure a seat.
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Duke has won 18 straight home openers, after falling its first two in 1975-76 and 1977-78.
Thomas Fires Away At A&M…
Junior Jasmine Thomas registered a career-high 26 points at 16th-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday. The Fairfax, Va., product hit a career-high four three-pointers, attempted a career-high and school record 14 three-pointers and attempted a career-high 28 shots.
In the contest, Thomas also pulled down nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in 38 minutes.
Through two games on the year, Thomas is averaging 16.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals. Of the five three-pointers Duke has hit on the season, Thomas has made four of those.
Duke Versus the Southern Conference…
Duke has played against eight teams in the Southern Conference, winning 35 out of 50 games. The last meeting with a Southern Conference team resulted in an 84-39 win for the Blue Devils as they faced UNC Greensboro in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Nov. 18, 2007. Duke owns a 25-game win streak against Southern Conference teams with the last loss coming in 1982, Georgia Southern, 58-64.
Thomas Impressive in First Collegiate Start…
Junior Krystal Thomas made her first collegiate start at center for the Blue Devils on Nov. 13 at Houston Baptist University. A product of Orlando, Fla., Thomas had played in 63 career contests without a start before Friday.
In the game, the 6-5 Thomas registered her fourth career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots in 20 minutes. She hit 7-of-10 field goals on the night.
Thomas is hitting a team-best 76.9 percent of her field goals in two games (10-of-13). She leads Duke with six blocked shots and an average of 8.5 rebounds.
Blue Devils Open on the Road…
For the second time in three years under the direction of Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, the Blue Devils opened the season on the road. During her first year in 2007-08, McCallie and the Blue Devils opened the season with a 57-37 victory at Denver.
Duke also opened with two consecutive road contests for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign when the Blue Devils played at Penn State and at Old Dominion. The Blue Devils came away with a 93-67 win at PSU and a 93-56 victory at ODU.
Thomas Selected Naismith Candidate…
Duke junior Jasmine Thomas has been named one of 50 preseason candidates for the Naismith National Player of the Year trophy.
The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2009-10 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T will be awarded at the 2010 NCAA Women’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas.