Jan. 18, 2012
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) – Sasha Goodlett credits Duke freshman center Elizabeth Williams with having impressive on-court skills.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Goodlett believes Georgia Tech should’ve lost to the Blue Devils for the 34th straight time.
“Their strength is great, but I feel like we’re strong, too,” Goodlett said. “It came down to toughness and rebounding. That’s really where the game was lost.”
Goodlett scored 25 points for Georgia Tech, which lost to No. 5 Duke on Wednesday night.
Elizabeth Williams had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Richa Jackson added 17 points for Duke.
The Blue Devils (15-2, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) haven’t lost to the Yellow Jackets since Feb. 27, 1994.
Duke shot 62.3 percent from the field (33 of 53) for its best single-game performance in five seasons under coach Joanne P. McCallie.
Goodlett, a senior, knew it would be difficult trying to compete against the multitalented Williams.
“I made up my mind before the jump that no matter how big, no matter how many shots she blocks, no matter what she throws at me, I’m going to score,” Goodlett said. “And I felt like it was a personal decision for me on offense and I feel like it showed tonight.
Georgia Tech had a chance to cut the lead to three, but Tyaunna Marshall’s fast-break layup attempt rolled off the rim with 16:09 remaining.
Less than 6 minutes later, Duke led by 16 on Shay Selby’s three-point play.
During the 13-5 run, Williams had a 21-second stretch in which she pulled down two offensive rebounds, hit a pair of free throws, grabbed a defensive rebound and passed the ball up the court to Selby for the assist on Jackson’s fast-break layup.
“I felt like at every position they were bigger than us, especially on the perimeter,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said.
“I really felt like that affected some of our jump shots and took away some of the things we like to do. Defensively, we struggled. We like to switch on everything. It was hard to switch when you’re switching little guards on big post players the way we were tonight.”
While Georgia Tech was missing eight of its first 11 shots from the field, the Blue Devils began the game hitting 10 of 12 to take a 22-8 lead.
Williams, who was rated one of the nation’s top recruits, gave Duke its biggest lead at 16 with a layup at the 12:31 mark of the first half. She helped the Blue Devils outscore Georgia Tech 48-34 in the paint and win the rebounding margin 37-27.
But the Yellow Jackets used an effective full-court press to help create a 29-19 run that made it 43-37 at halftime.
Chelsea Gray’s jumper with 22 seconds remaining gave Duke its biggest lead and ended the scoring. Gray finished with 16 points.
The Blue Devils, who haven’t lost since falling 72-65 at Kentucky on Dec. 8, host No. 8 Maryland on Sunday.
Marshall scored 13 points for Georgia Tech, which will visit Florida State on Sunday.
“We started pressing, really got into them and cut the game down,” Marshall said. “We just had inside presence from Sasha and our guards knew what we needed to do, so we just cut it down with the pressure on the ball. I feel like we cut it down good, but we just let it slip away a little bit.”
The Jackets were just 3 of 14 on 3-point attempts. Duke went 3 of 4, but the Blue Devils saw no need to shoot 3s when they were so effective in scoring in the paint.
“Ball movement is key especially going against the press,” Jackson said after tying her career high with eight field goals. “You don’t want to dribble too much. You want to pass the ball and keep your spacing. We did that tonight and got many fast-break points.”
Williams created mismatch problems all night for Georgia Tech, making crisp passes when the defense collapsed around her, hitting midrange jumpers, banking in shots softly off the glass and committing just one foul.
“Williams is really a legit and great post player,” Goodlett said. “She really doesn’t play like a freshman. She steps up for her team.”