ACC WBB: Florida State 69, Duke 53

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DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Blue Devils hit another pothole on their circuitous path along the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season.

A 69-53 loss to the 10th-ranked Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday handed the Blue Devils their second loss in as many games, and seventh straight to a ranked opponent this season.

Guard Angela Salvadores posted a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds to lead Duke (17-9, 6-6) and was supported by eight point each from Rebecca Greenwell and Crystal Primm.

Double-digit finishes from Shakayla Thomas (14 points, 7 rebounds), Kai James (11 points, 8 rebounds), and Maria Conde (10 points, 2 rebounds) fueled the Florida State (20-4, 10-1) offense.

Outrebounded by a 43-32 margin and committing 22 turnovers were keys to Duke denying itself any chance of staging enough of a comeback to contend for the win.

“I thought Florida State played hard and well,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“The rebounding stats are very telling. They’re offensive rebounds are telling because they had some key putbacks. ”

It was another challenging matchup that Duke faced without forward Azura Stevens who missed her third straight game with a left plantar fascia injury suffered during a 68-61 loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 1st.

Florida State took advantage of the opportunity, won the tip and went to work quickly as Ivey Slaughter dropped a layup within the first 10 seconds for her first of eight points on the night.

The Seminoles kept a modest four-point lead until Primm scored Duke’s first points at the 6:32 mark.

Thomas extended Florida State’s lead to 8-2 with five minutes to play.

The back-and-forth play continued as both teams traded made and missed field goal attempts as well as giveaways.

By the time Slaughter extended the Seminoles’ lead to 15-6 with 1:46 to play, both teams had already combined for 13 turnovers.

Greenwell then posted a 5-0 run all on her own to pull Duke within four, trailing 15-11 at the end of the opening quarter.

A jumper and a three from Conde then gave Florida State a nine-point lead early in the second

With both teams combining for a 1-for-10 effort from the perimeter, every point was contested from the paint.

The Seminoles led 27-20 at halftime.

“I didn’t think it was a particularly good game to watch, a lot of stoppage of play, a lot of turnovers in the first half,” Florida State head coach Sue Semrau said regarding her thoughts of the choppy play during the opening 20 minutes.

After Leticia Romero (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Greenwell traded misses for each side to start the third quarter, Florida State dropped two consecutive three-pointers that extended Duke’s deficit to 15 points.

The Blue Devils quickly answered back with jumpers from Salvadores and Amber Henson (7 points, 4 rebounds).

Florida State led 35-24 with 6:45 to play in the period.

While Duke worked to keep the deficit under control in spurts, it could never cut it down considerably at any point.

“Well I have to give them credit for defense and just playing very physical basketball, obviously,” McCallie said.

“But I won’t give them credit for 22 turnovers. That’s on us, in terms of making poor decisions. Some of those turnovers might have been good defense, but certainly not all of them. We’ve got to clean up our act a little bit.  You can see, it’s horrible – six assists is horrible. Nobody is working for their teammates to get the ball to people and create assists. That’s a very important concept. So I credit the defense, but I’m not going to give it all to the defense.”

Salvadores dropped the Blue Devils’ first three of the game to pull within 10 points, trailing 45-35 heading into the final quarter of play.

A technical foul assessed against Duke put the Seminoles at the line to keep their 10-point lead, 47-37, with 6:57 to play.

Three straight field goals, including Greenwell’s first three of the game finally pulled the Blue Devils’ deficit into single-digits.

Following a layup from Lambert, Florida State’s lead was cut down to 51-44 with 5:34 to play.

A three from Henson made one last push for the Blue Devils, trailing by eight, 59-51, with 1:32 remaining.

It was the last conversion that Duke would make from the perimeter.

“It just came down to not having a lot of open looks,” Greenwell said regarding Duke taking only nine three-point attempts throughout the game.

“FSU did a good job of denying the ball and it was more of an inside game, and that’s just the way the game broke down.”

During the final minutes of play, both teams traded baskets inside and Florida State worked the clock to outdistance themselves from the Blue Devils.

Duke didn’t have enough, nor executed well enough to catch up.

“I think when you don’t have a player like Azurá you have to be more of a team and you have to work things more, and we have not chosen to do that,” McCallie concluded.

“We have turned the ball over too many times; we have tried to rush when we should be slowing down and so we have not made good choices relative to the change in our lineup. We will have to make better choices in the future.”