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What was Duke’s downfall in a season-ending loss to Florida State?

A day after several highs, Duke suffered too many lows to advance in the ACC Tournament.

The Blue Devils saw their four-game win streak come to an end, falling to Florida State 51-41. The 41 points were a season-low and the fourth-lowest scoring total in school history. Duke finishes the season 15-15 overall.

The Noles, the No. 6 seed, will face N.C. State on Friday at 8 p.m. as the Wolfpack plays its tournament opener.

“You have to be able to play different types of games,” Duke head coach Joanne McCallie said. “We have to rebound. It was a very poor rebounding night. Offense sells tickets, that’s what happened last night. Defense and rebounds win championships.”

It was the first time in the McCallie era at Duke that the coach failed to win at least 20 games. Haley Gorecki scored a game-high 17 points to lead Duke. Leaonna Odom scored 13, but there wasn’t much help offensively for the duo.

McCallie got just two points from her two freshmen in the starting lineup — Onome Akinbode-James and Miela Goodchild — and just seven points from sophomore forward Jade Williams. McCallie said the entire team, not just those three, can learn from this experience moving forward.

“There’s lessons to be learned, things to be worked on,” McCallie said. “It’s a different kind of game.”

The Blue Devils just couldn’t recreate the same offensive firepower they had the previous night in a win over Pittsburgh. On this night it was the Seminoles who seemed like they couldn’t miss. Even when they did, the bigger FSU front court was there to clean up their own mess. The Noles had 15 second-chance points and out-rebounded the Blue Devils 42-28.

One day after scoring a season-high 50 points in one half, Duke managed only a season-low 19 points in the first half. The Blue Devils connected on an ACC-record 12 three-pointers against the Panthers, but struggled from deep Thursday.

“You can’t rely on your shooting,” Gorecki said. “You have good nights and bad nights. We had to take advantage of driving (to the basket). Shots aren’t always going to fall, so I think taking advantage of driving and getting to the foul line would be in our favor.”

Duke did have more free throw attempts (11) than the Noles (8), but that was about the only category the Blue Devils led.

Duke shot 17 percent from behind the line, connecting on just 2 of 12 three-pointers. Their first made three-pointer came with 1:10 remaining in the first half, pulling the Devils to within four.

The Blue Devils shot 29.3 percent from the field, the second time this season the team shot below 30 percent in a game. Duke shot 29.1 percent from the floor against N.C. State on Jan. 3. They scored 51 points that night, the lowest scoring output heading into the ACC Tournament.

The score was tied twice in the first half, but the Blue Devils never led against the Noles, who shot 41.2 percent from the floor.

“This was not a game that was going to be 90-80,” McCallie said. “This was not that type of game. It was an ugly game and you have to find a way to get those things (rebounds and free throws) done. This is a very important lesson for us to learn.”

Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.
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