BYU women’s basketball faces Duke in season home opener

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One year ago, BYU’s women’s basketball dueled Duke University in North Carolina and lost 69-54. Friday, the Cougars have a chance to redeem themselves against the Blue Devils on their own turf in the season’s home opener.

The Duke women’s team was recently ranked No. 8 in the Top 25 AP preseason coaches’ poll after finishing last season with a 32-4 record. BYU, on the other hand, is fresh off two blowout exhibition games in the Marriott Center. The team spent the past week reviewing tapes and playing against the BYU men’s team to get an idea of what they’re going to face.

Coach Jeff Judkins said he likes scheduling tough games early because it sets a good tone for what the team needs to do the rest of the season.

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Xojian Harry goes after a loose ball in a game against Western Oregon in an exhibition game.
“We know Duke’s going to be a good team,” freshman Ashely Garfield said. “But we also know that we can compete with them if we play to our potential and have our coaches set up the game plan.”

Immediately after last Friday’s exhibition game, the Cougars were each given a DVD of last year’s game against Duke to watch and analyze. Aside from reviewing techniques on the game the team added a few other applications to this past week’s practices.

Though the women’s team normally plays the men’s basketball team daily to get a feel of their athleticism on the court, starting senior Dani Peterson said the men simulated the Duke defense and offense, and the coaches put the players in certain situations to prepare for Friday.

Peterson said she hopes altitude will be a weakness for the Blue Devils, making Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie unable to play her starting five as much as she wants.

A big blunder the team hopes to repair is the amount of free throws the Blue Devils were given last year. Duke made it to the line 36 times during last year’s game and made 21 of those baskets. BYU only made it to the free throw line 16 times.

“We cannot put them to the line [36] times,” Judkins said. “If we can hold that to 18-20, then we’ll be right in the game. We lost last year by [15], and it was closer than that most of the way. Foul shots hurt us.”

Freshman Stephanie Rovetti sees keeping composure as a key point in Friday’s game.

“I think [Duke’s] going to try and speed us up, so I think just running our offense and letting our plays develop and letting shots just come to us rather than hunting for us.”

The five players who started the exhibition games — Peterson, Haley Steed, Kim Parker, Kristen Riley and Lexi Eaton — will continue to start. But Judkins said his bench is eight deep with experience, and 11-12 deep with girls who know what they’re doing and can help.

“I think everyone on our team that’s going to step on the floor is going to be beneficial,” Peterson said. “We all have different strengths, and hopefully we all can utilize our strengths to our best ability because that’s when we play our best team basketball — when everyone contributes.”

Judkins said he has a menu of ways to win the game, and overall, he feels he has a better idea of how Duke is going to retaliate than he did last year.

“Even though they’re a ranked opponent, that doesn’t really matter to us,” Peterson said. “We know that we have a good team here. They’re on our home court and we’re going to protect it. We have that confidence that we can win.”

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