Krystal Thomas scores career-high 21 to lead Duke to 88-63 victory over Providence

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Thomas leads Duke to 88-63 win over Providence

DURHAM, N.C. — Krystal Thomas lost her starting job and found her assertiveness.

Three days after the worst game of her career, Thomas had one of the best.

She scored a career-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help No. 8 Duke defeat Providence 88-63 on Sunday.

“I’m extremely proud of Krystal and her efforts,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “That was obviously just a dominant performance and really fun to see. I thought she was outstanding.”

Jasmine Thomas added 18 points for the Blue Devils (12-2), who scored the game’s first 10 points. Karima Christmas scored 15 points to help Duke record its 22nd consecutive home victory.

Tiffany Hurd scored 15 points to lead Providence (9-4), which shot 36 percent from the floor. Trinity Hull added 11 points and Chelsea Marandola had 10 points for the Friars.

The Blue Devils, who scored on their first six possessions, led 45-24 at halftime after closing the first half with a 9-2 spurt. They shot 56 percent from the floor for the game, including a season-best 67 percent in the first half.

“Our players came in here shell-shocked, and it showed right in the beginning of the game in terms of our toughness and how we handled their pressure,” Providence coach Phil Seymore said. “It dug us a hole. And they’re a very good basketball team, so they took it from there.”

The Friars clawed their way back after Duke’s early surge, pulling within 17-14 on a 3-pointer by Marandola with 13 minutes remaining in the first half.

But Krystal Thomas, who scored just two points and didn’t take a shot in Duke’s 70-62 win at Temple on Thursday, took over from there. She sparked a 15-2 run, scoring 13 points on 6 of 6 shooting during that span to put the Blue Devils ahead 32-16 with 7 minutes left in the half.

“Definitely coming off my last performance, which was probably the worst ever, I just had to come out here and pick it up and just really play the way that I know I can play,” Thomas said.

The 6-foot-4 Thomas, who blocked four shots to become the eighth player in Duke history with 100 blocks, displayed her entire offensive repertoire and shot 8 for 10 from the field.

She scored on a putback, pushed through contact on a layup for a three-point play and knocked down a 12-foot jumper during her first-half spurt. Then she made a couple of left-handed baby hook shots in the second half.

“After a while,” Thomas said, “it seems like you just can’t miss.”

Her teammates followed suit. The Blue Devils, who led by 34 points in the second half, made 6 of 11 3-pointers after halftime.

Christmas and Jasmine Thomas combined to make 7 of 9 3s in the game for Duke, which finished with a 45-29 rebounding advantage in its final tuneup before the start of conference play.

“I think we’re in a great place,” McCallie said. “I think we’re in a place where we can get a lot better. I’m excited for the next game, and I think we all are.”

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