Duke’s Coach P advances to face former employer
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Joanne P. McCallie was welcomed warmly by former neighbors when she arrived at Duke’s hotel.
The reception in Michigan State’s arena Sunday was different.
When McCallie was introduced before her top-seeded Blue Devils played Austin Peay, boos easily outnumbered cheers.
Fans of the school McCallie left behind didn’t have much to jeer the rest of the afternoon because Duke was dominant in an 83-42 win over the Lady Govs in the first round.
“The mixed reception was fine,” McCallie insisted. “We’re just focused on getting better.”
The NCAA sent Coach P to Michigan State, where she coached from 2000-07, and set up a possible second-round matchup with her former employer.
Now, Duke (27-5) will play the ninth-seeded Spartans (21-10) Tuesday night on their home court.
“I think she’s excited,” Blue Devils forward Carrem Gay said. “She gets to play her old team.”
Old acquaintances tried to make McCallie feel at home again in the Breslin Center, reaching over a water cooler to shake her hands during warmups. McCallie acknowledged one green-and-white clad fan, then stood up and walked away from the bench as others approached.
“I was just trying to focus,” she said. “After the game, it’s easy to talk to people and shake hands. Before the game, it’s not what I wanted to do.”
The Blue Devils did what they usually do, pressuring on defense and spreading the wealth offensively.
“I don’t think we did a good job of handling the pressure,” Austin Peay coach Carrie Daniels said. “We did exactly the opposite of what we wanted to do.
“We played scared and timid.”
The Lady Govs were held to a season-low shooting percentage, matched a season low in points and had 22 turnovers.
Emily Pollock scored 13 and Nicole Jamen had 10 for the 16th-seeded Lady Govs (17-16).
Chante Black led the Blue Devils’ balanced offense with 14 points.
In the first half, Duke got scoring from 10 players—none of whom had more than eight points—and the 11th player scored early in the second half.
“Everyone wants to play and step up and become part of what this team is expected to do in the tournament,” Black said.
Duke’s chances of advancing to the round of 16 for the 12th straight year will improve if one of its leaders can play against the Spartans. Senior guard Abby Waner was out with a sprained knee after getting injured in a practice and is listed as day to day.
The Blue Devils took command for good against Austin Peay with an 11-0 run, giving them a 23-6 lead midway through the first half. They scored nine of the last 11 points in the first half to take a 40-19 lead.
After the Blue Devils scored the first four points of the second half, Daniels called timeout even though she couldn’t have had any solutions to slow down the other team on the court.
Duke only added to its lead the rest of the way, refusing to be content with a big lead, and was ahead by as much as 44.
With 8 minutes left and a 33-point lead, Shay Selby raced down the court to catch Pollock on a breakaway and blocked her shot.
“That was an incredible hustle play by Shay,” McCallie said. “That embodies what we’re trying to be about.”
Joy Cheek scored 12 for the Blue Devils and Krystal Thomas scored 10, helping their bench outscore Austin Peay’s 38-13.
Duke’s size helped it outscore the Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion 44-18 in the lane.
The Blue Devils have never lost a first-round game and Austin Peay fell to 0-6 in the NCAA tournament.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Daniels said. “But with one senior, it’s an incredible learning experience for every player that is returning.
“The one message I sent to them was, ‘It’s time to go to work if you want to be here next year.’ We have to go to work to prepare ourselves to earn another OVC championship and to be more prepared for a first-round game.”