Duke bested by Team USA 87-58 in women’s basketball exhibition

Blue Devils show hustle and grit against National Team vets

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis (@pksport)


DURHAM, NC – Matching up for only the second time ever, the Duke Blue Devils hosted Team USA in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.

A mutual understanding

The more experienced national squad used the College Tour game against the Blue Devils to prepare for next Summer’s FIBA Qualifying Tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, while the energetic ACC squad was looking to take from the experience to build on an early 2-0 start to its season.

Never trailing following the opening tip, Team USA bested Duke by an 87-58 margin – an outcome that each would benefit from.

“Well, it doesn’t count, that’s good,” Duke head coach Kara Lawson said lightheartedly afterwards.

“It was a really cool day for our team, and they were smiling from the moment they woke up and coming in here to get shots this morning and in the locker room before the game, anticipating playing against this team. To see them have little moments of success throughout the course of the game, I’m just really proud of how they tried to compete. I think there’s a lot of good lessons for us in terms of what we need to work on. I’m not mad or angry about a loss like this because the level of that team is obviously really, really high. I just feel very fortunate to have been able to provide this opportunity for our team and thankful to USA Basketball for bringing their team here and I thought it was a great outpouring of support from the community and a lot of fans coming and it was a great day.”

All-in for this one

With 3,357 in attendance looking on, Team USA was led by Kaleah Copper’s 18 points along with three additional double-figure finishes from Allisha Gray (16 points), Dearica Hamby (14 points), and Rhyne Howard (14 points).

It was all sparked by a quick 3-pointer from Diana Taurasi 10 seconds into the exhibition contest.

The entire national squad played double-digit minutes, with Britnney Griner the lone exception – working for a brief two minutes from the tip, followed by a jumper for two, a missed jumper, and a rebound before sitting for the remainder.

For Duke, guard Taina Mair dropped a team-high 16 points with support from guard Oluchi Okananwa (9 points, 7 rebounds) and center Kennedy Brown (8 points, 7 rebounds) to lead the Blue Devils offense.

Everyone on the roster contributed to the Blue Devils’ point total, and played significant role minutes – a key to the purpose of Lawson scheduling the contest.

Take from this what you need

Despite losing by a wide margin, Duke had no reason to lament, finishing with a 40-percent shooting performance from both the field (26-of-65) and beyond the arc (6-of-15), while pulling down 37 boards — 22 defensive rebounds and 15 offensive rebounds, two more than Team USA’s total of 13.

“A big thank you to Coach Lawson and Duke University and Duke women’s basketball specifically to host us because this is really important as we grow towards our goal of the gold medal in Paris,” Team USA coach Cheryl Reeve said.

“If you look at Duke’s schedule that they have coming up this week (three more games, including next Sunday at Stanford), to fit us in, hopefully our game, it will prove to be maybe some lessons learned for them that helps on their journey this season. But I just can’t say enough how much we appreciate that they opened their home to us to have us here.”

Triangle Sports Network: 401-323-8960 | @tsportsnet