February 26, 1999
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Forget the 56-percent shooting, the 48-31 rebounding
edge and the 33-point margin of victory. Duke’s Blue Devils were not happy with
their Atlantic Coast Conference tournament opener Friday night.
“It was a little disappointing,” Duke’s Hilary Howard said after the
eighth-ranked and top-seeded Blue Devils looked sloppy at times on the way to a
90-57 victory over Florida State.
Howard had all 12 of her points and six of her eight assists in the first
half as Duke (24-5) took control and earned a spot in Sunday’s semifinals.
Howard, a senior guard who is the Blue Devils’ all-time assists leader, pushed
her career total to 505.
Duke, winning for the 19th time in 20 games, raced to a 17-2 lead, but the
Blue Devils offset their strong start with 26 turnovers – one short of their
“We had some lapses, especially in the second half,” Howard said.
“Florida State was attacking us, and we were back on our heels. If we’re going
to win the tournament, we can’t play like we did tonight.”
Duke’s ballhandling problems were especially bad at the outset of the second
half, when the Blue Devils went nearly 4 1/2 minutes before getting their first
“We didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball, and we’re going to work
on that,” said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors, who is trying to lead the Blue
Devils to their first ACC title. “I felt like we lost our focus a little bit,
especially at the start of the second half. We were not ready to play.”
Duke also got 15 points from Payton Black and 12 each from Michele VanGorp
and Krista Gingrich.
Ninth-seeded Florida State (7-20) closed its season by losing 15 of 17 after
top scorer Latavia Coleman went down with a severe knee injury Dec. 26.
“These players have endured some major adversity, and I’m very proud of
them,” said Sue Semrau, who is the third coach the Seminoles’ seniors have had
since they came to Florida State. “Duke has just a lot of different weapons
that you have to defend, and we didn’t do a good job defending any of them.”
Brooke Wyckoff, Tamara Gracey and Angela Sutton all had 12 points for the
Seminoles and April Traylor had 11.
The Seminoles rallied from their early deficit with a 10-2 run that cut
Duke’s lead to 33-21 before Howard almost singlehandedly took over the final
six minutes of the half.
Howard started Duke’s 20-5 run by hitting 3-pointers on three consecutive
possessions. She added three assists in the surge, capping the half by snapping
a no-look pass across the lane to Rochelle Parent for a layup that made it
53-26 at halftime.
Duke opened the second half by turning it over five times in eight
possessions, clearing the way for the Seminoles to score the first 10 points
and cut their deficit to 17.
But the Blue Devils responded with a 12-2 surge, and they kept pulling away
from there, never letting Florida State closer than 27 the rest of the way.
Duke stretched its lead as high as 39 in the closing minutes.
By JOE MACENKA
AP Sports Writer