Durham, NC — The No. 13 Duke Blue Devils wore down the No. 8 Louisville Cardinals, winning the matchup, 58-55.
The Duke Blue Devils were led by Lexie Brown who had 17-points. Brown went 7-of-7 from the charity stripe; however, she struggled shooting on the night going 4-of-14 from the field.
But, Brown’s ability to capitalize at the line was crucial in the final seconds as her two free-throws sealed the deal for Duke.
“I was just trying to get the free throw line,” said Brown, the star of the night. “We were trying to kick our defense up a notch and get some steals. We were playing more aggressive.”
Despite the action-packed final minutes, the majority of the game was an offensive struggle for each team as both tried to penetrate the other's defense.
The Cardinals and the Blue Devils appeared to be shaking off rust in the first period as both teams struggled from the field. The play was extremely inefficient, starting off choppy.
The Cardinals won the tip, but missed shots by Briahanna Jackson and Myisha Hines-Allen put the ball in Rebecca Greenwell’s hand. Greenwell dished the ball out to Oderah Chidom for a jump-shot.
Louisville countered as Mariya Moore fired off a three-pointer to put the Cardinals on the board. However, Leaonna Odom connected on a jump shot to put the Blue Devils back ahead.
Duke jumped out to an early 9-5 lead behind scoring from Kyra Lambert and Lexie Brown. However, back to back layups from Myisha Hines-Allen and Corinne Walton tied the game at 9 into the first media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Duke switched to a matchup zone, which proved quickly to be an issue for Louisville. The Cardinals turned the ball over four times in the final 4 minutes of the first period.
A three-pointer by Asia Durr appeared as if it would spark the Cardinals as her three-points pushed Louisville ahead, 12-11. But Kendall Cooper connected on back to back shot to put the Blue Devils up, 15-12 at the end of the first.
The Cardinals started off the second period hot as Sam Fuehring drove to the bucket for back-to-back layups. Fuehring’s layups put Louisville out front by 1.
As soon as the Cardinals gained momentum, Brown fired off a three-pointer to push Duke ahead.
Both teams faced scoring droughts into the media timeout. Out of the timeout, Hines-Allen connected on a jump shot to tie the game at 18, and Durr fired off a three-pointer, again, pushing Louisville ahead.
The Cardinals outscored the Blue Devils, 13-8 in the second period. Louisville held Duke to 25-percent shooting from the field.
At the half, the Cardinals held a slim 25-23 advantage.
In an unusual move out of the locker room, Duke was duped by Louisville to set up their defense under their basket, which confused the Blue Devils. And, once the Cardinals saw that Duke fell victim to the clever strategy, Briahanna Jackson drove for an uncontested layup to boost the Cardinals to a 4-point lead.
“We scored a layup,” said Walz. “I watch teams when they come out at halftime. We have done that once or twice before.”
As with the previous two quarters, the third period was a game of cat-and-mouse. The Cardinals were able to jump out to a 35-30 lead. However, Cooper, Chidom and Brown brought Duke back, tying the game at 35.
“In a possession game like the tonight’s game was, we just try to stick together no matter what the ups and downs,” said Kyra Lambert. “Coach calls it ‘stuff’ that happens. We just try to fight through it and stick together.”
Louisville and Duke both shot above 50-percent in the third period. Mariya Moore led the Cardinals with 8-points, while Brown also grabbed 8-points for Duke.
The Cardinals outscored the Blue Devils, 19-18, in the third period behind 61% shooting. Moore sparked Louisville adding 8-points, hitting two three-pointers and a layup.
Louisville led 44-41 heading into the final period.
Duke came out strong in the fourth period as Rebecca Greenwell fired off a three-pointer. Greenwell’s bucket led the Blue Devils on a 7-0 run to take a 2-point lead.
Durr and Moore forced the Cardinals back out in front, but scoring from Cooper, Greenwell and Brown sealed the deal for Duke.
I like the fact that we took care of the basketball, especially because it was a physical game,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “There was a lot more we can do in terms of getting to the free throw line and offensive rebounding in particular. But I’m very, very proud of our team. You have to be able to win ugly. You have to be able to make things happen when things are not looking very pretty.”
The Cardinals had three players grab double-figures: Myisha Hines-Allen notched her sixth double-double on the season. Hines-Allen picked up 16-points on 50-percent shooting, and 12-rebounds. Mariya Moore also racked up 16-points for the Cardinals. Rounding out the top scorers for Louisville is Asia Durr, who tallied 15-points.
For Duke, Lexie Brown led all scorers with 17-points. Brown went 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. Rebecca Greenwell added 10-points and 6-boards.
Louisville stays on the road as they head to Charlottesville, Virginia to face the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday, January 5th.
Duke will travel to Georgia Tech for a game on the same day with tip-off set for 7 p.m. ET.