Christmas’ 23 points helps No. 8 Duke beat Temple 70-62

By Doug Feinberg, AP
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas time: No. 8 Duke defeats Temple 70-62

PHILADELPHIA — The shots wouldn’t fall. For Duke, that meant it was time to get to work on the boards.

Karima Christmas had 23 points and 14 rebounds, both career highs, to lead No. 8 Duke to a 70-62 victory over Temple on Thursday.

“Karima had an incredible game for us,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “This performance was outstanding, and it’s just reflective of what she’s capable of doing.”

The Blue Devils struggled against a Temple defense that is one of the nation’s best, allowing only 54.2 points. Duke shot just 34 percent but held a 40-27 rebounding edge.

“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well and when that happens you have to rebound. I thought we did that and were aggressive getting to the line.”

Duke was 27-for-35 from the line and also had 22 offensive rebounds.

“The game was lost on the backboard,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We gave them 20 second-chance points. We also turned the ball over 25 times. Right there is the story.”

Jasmine Thomas added 15 points for the Blue Devils (11-2), who were coming off the biggest rout in school history. They beat North Carolina Central by 89 points Monday night, the sixth-largest victory margin in women’s basketball this decade.

“Last game was a confidence booster,” Christmas said. “This game we knew we had to go out and play great defense.”

Trailing 45-41 midway through the second half, Thomas hit three free throws to start a 7-0 run. Temple then went up 50-49 with 7:55 left. Duke answered with the next 10 points, forcing five straight turnovers. Christmas’ two free throws with 4:10 to go made it 58-49.

The Owls (10-3) drew to 62-58 on Kristen McCarthy’s 3-pointer with 2:03 left, but Duke hit eight straight free throws to seal it. McCarthy finished with 16 points.

Christmas scored 13 points to help Duke build a 33-27 halftime lead.

Temple was off to its best start in 28 years, winning 10 of its first 12 games. The 1981-82 team began 13-1. The game against Duke was the first of a three-game stretch against ranked teams. The Owls visit No. 12 Florida State on Sunday and play No. 15 Xavier on Jan. 10.

“We have a tough stretch here,” Cardoza said. “We’re just looking to become a better basketball team.”

This was the fifth meeting between the teams. Duke has won them all, including an 87-52 victory last season.

“You can’t compare the teams as each year is different,” McCallie said. “They are a much better basketball team with much better guard play.”

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