Duke’s Jones, Gray lead Blue-White scrimmage

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

DURHAM, N.C. – The nationally-ranked Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team held its annual Blue-White scrimmage which showcased the long-range shooting and playmaking abilities of guards Alexis Jones and Chelsea Gray while introducing this year’s squad to the collective of students, friends, family and season ticket holders who were in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.

Playing four separate quarters or mini-games of 10-minute duration each, head coach Joanne P. McCallie split her team up into different combinations to see how each would compete against one another.

Jones totaled 29 points overall and turned in a 5-of-8 shooting performance beyond the arc, while Gray tallied eight points and five assists in her first action in Cameron since suffering a season-ending injury there late last season.

“We are learning to play together,” McCallie said.

“Obviously, we’re not there yet, but I thought it was good to be out on the floor together, to be going through things and challenging ourselves.”

While McCallie sat opposite the benches in press row taking notes, assistant coaches Al Brown, Candice M. Jackson and Hernando Planells directed the Blue Devils from the sidelines which included directing the team’s male scout squad during the final 10 minutes of play.

“For us, it’s important to mix and match combinations and to give people a chance to play against each other,” McCallie continued.

“We tried to do to work on that competitive cauldron a little bit, get some film of us playing against each other, and then add those guys in at the end because obviously of their quickness and they work with us every day.”

Seniors Tricia Liston and Haley Peters each contributed 20 points throughout the scrimmage, while freshman Oderah Chidom paced Duke on the boards, recording a team-high 14 rebounds, along with junior Elizabeth Williams who also tallied 10 total boards of her own.

Gray played 26 minutes during the first three quarters of intra-squad play, but watched during the final quarter against the scout squad as McCallie preferred to rest her senior guard who was happy to be back on the floor in a competitive atmosphere.

“I felt good – it was good to be back out there,” Gray said.

“I missed it. Just to be out there with my team, really get fired up and get everybody else involved. I mean – I just loved it – I just love the game.”

With Gray sitting out for the final 10 minutes, it was Jones who carried the load against a well-rested scout group that pushed the Blue Devils to their limit.

“We realized that we made a lot of turnovers, that we wouldn’t get into our place correctly,” Jones said.

“We just needed to slow down the game and actually run through our plays, so we could hit our options and focus on knocking down our shots.”

Other returners who had strong performances during intra-squad play included senior Richa Jackson who finished with 15 points while junior Ka’lia Johnson added 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field in addition to pulling down seven rebounds in 34 minutes of play.

In making her first appearance since her freshman season, after sitting out last season to rehab from knee surgery, junior Amber Henson totaled four points, one rebound and an assist, while freshmen Kendall McCravey-Cooper also made her debut in Cameron tallying two points and five rebounds on the day.

“We were out there competing,” McCallie concluded.

“It was competition and now we’ve got film. The big thing will be (watching) the film on Tuesday and look at that and show people. People react better when they see it. Sometimes I think they (players) think as coaches we might make things up. So they see it on the film and then we’ll go from there. That’s the most important part of this, is (watch) the film on Tuesday.”