Sweet Sixteen Halftime Report: Duke 36, St. John’s 25

An up-and-down first half in which St. John’s started on the front foot, but saw Duke roar back as the period went on.


Early: Dominant Da’Shena — Senior Da’Shena Stevens, playing in her third and final NCAA Tournament, was virtually unguardable in the game’s opening minutes, starting 4-for-4 from the field and scoring 10 of the Red Storm’s first 12 points as the Johnnies jumped out to a 15-7 lead. But she left the game after picking up her second foul, which helped allow Duke back into the game.

Middle: Slumping Shenneika — The Johnnies’ leading scorer was ice-cold in the first half, scoring just 2 points on 1-for-8 shooting. The Duke bench was animated in helping the players on the floor keep track of the junior swingman, and Smith appeared visibly frustrated by all the attention she received.

Late: Great Gray — Playing in front of about 50 friends and family, Blue Devils point guard Chelsea Gray was in total control with eight points, three steals and two assists. Her best play, however, didn’t make the scoresheet. She got into the lane and made a sweet over-the-head pass to teammate Elizabeth Williams, who missed the layup to blow Gray’s assist.

What now? St. John’s looked at its best when running in transition; Duke has stifled the team in the half court. A weird bounce and a buzzer-beater three made this a double-digit game at halftime, but the Johnnies were better for large stretches, and only really seemed overwhelmed for the last four minutes or so. Let’s see if they can regain their composure and make a run in the second half.