With Lawson, Taylor Back, Blue Devils Defeat Pitt, 54-39

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Duke women’s basketball got both Celeste Taylor and head coach Kara Lawson back on Thursday at Pitt and registered a 54-39 road dub over Pittsburgh at the Petersen Event Center.

Graduate student Lexi Gordon and freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson finished the game in double-figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively, to lead the way for the Blue Devils (14-7, 5-6 ACC). Senior Melia Goodchild grabbed a team-leading nine rebounds and Day-Wilson dished out six assists.

Duke got off to a good start and built an eight-point lead early in the first. Senior Onome Akinbode-James logged the first four points for the visitors and Gordon followed with the next four. Day-Wilson made a strong drive to the cup and kissed her shot off the glass for a 10-2 lead at the media timeout. A pair of free throws would be the only other Pitt points of the frame as the Blue Devils held the Panthers without a field goal for the final five minutes. On the offensive end, Akinbode-James added another bucket in the paint and Gordon drained her second triple of the period with 46 seconds remaining to give Duke an 11-point apex heading into the second.

Duke held the Panthers (11-11, 2-9 ACC) to four points through the opening 10 minutes of play on 7.7 percent shooting (1-of-13). Pitt’s point total is tied for the fewest points allowed by Duke in a first quarter all-time, while the field goal percentage ranks as the second-lowest allowed in the period.

Sophomore Vanessa de Jesus nailed a short jumper to open the second quarter scoring, however, the Blue Devils endured a five-minute scoring drought before Taylor cashed in a triple from the far-left corner to push the lead to a dozen. Pittsburgh responded with a 10-3 run to cut the deficit to 23-18, but senior Elizabeth Balogun crashed the offensive glass then converted an old fashioned three-point play to push the advantage back to eight heading into the break.

Gordon nailed three triples and tallied 10 points in the first half while Goodchild snagged seven boards. Day-Wilson led the assist efforts with four helpers.

Five players scored for the Blue Devils in the third, paced by de Jesus (4) and Goodchild (3). Duke led 39-29 at the end of three as its defense continued to shine. The Blue Devils closed the quarter holding the Panthers without a field goal for 2:47 and 1-of-10 shooting overall.

After Gordon and Taylor converted on hard drives to the rim, an 8-0 run ballooned the Duke lead to 19 – A pair of trifectas from Day-Wilson and one from Goodchild, along with another layup from Taylor pushed Duke ahead, 54-35.

Five Pittsburgh players scored six points to lead the team scoring efforts.

Game Notes:

  • Duke held Pitt to four points and 1-of-13 field goals (7.7%) shooting in the first quarter. The four points is tied for the fewest points allowed in the first quarter in Duke history.  The 7.7 percent shooting is the second-lowest allowed in the first quarter as well.
  • Two Blue Devils finished in double figures – Gordon (12) and Day-Wilson
  • Rookie Shayeann Day-Wilson scored double-digits for the eighth game in a row.
  • Head Coach Kara Lawson returned to the court after missing the last three games due to Duke’s health and safety protocols.
  • Celeste Taylor made her return to the lineup after missing the last seven contests with an injury. She scored seven points and grabbed six boards in 23 minutes of action.

Up Next:
Duke plays its fifth game in 11 days as the Blue Devils host Wake Forest on Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m., live on ACC Network.

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