Guard play leads way in Durham

"She's been randomly taking those shots since she got here," Bruno said of the junior who has been a first-team all-Big East honoree in each of the past two seasons. "What she's growing into is understanding the ebbs and flows of the game and when [she should use] her ability to get to the paint and facilitate for other people -- she's just learning when to get to the rim and facilitate and when to take them.

"She's made those shots throughout her career, believe it or not."

Her final act matched the coach's words. With the game once again level at 97, Hrynko drove into lane with a little more than 40 seconds remaining and somehow released an almost-blind pass back over her head to Rogowski wide open in the corner. It wasn't a good pass, both passer and receiver agreed. But it got there. Just 2-of-10 from the field in the second half, Rogowski buried the shot.

Now consider that Hrynko, Jenkins and Rogowski all played on the same court a year ago in the first round of the NCAA tournament. As two sophomores and a freshman, they combined to hit just 8-of-38 shots in a 73-56 loss against Oklahoma State.

That was the team it was. This is the team it is a year later. It didn't have leading scorer Jasmine Penny for long stretches because of fouls, but it had its backcourt.

As Bruno said, the cliché about survive and advance refers only to effect. What's really at issue is the cause.

What will a team do to influence its survival?

"That's back on the little things that these players have been doing since they walked out of this gym playing a really poor game against Oklahoma State," Bruno said. "This season started a year ago with one of our worst NCAA performances against Oklahoma State. We limped into the tournament last year and we limped out of this arena."

Johnson didn't limp out of Cameron Indoor Stadium a year ago. She strolled out with the rest of her Duke teammates after wins in the first two rounds, bound for Norfolk, Va., and the Sweet 16.

But then a sophomore, she was incidental to what the Blue Devils were a season ago.

Johnson played just seven minutes in the first round against Hampton and three minutes in the second round against Oklahoma State.

Duke probably could have pulled someone out of a campus intramural league to play alongside Richa Jackson, Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Elizabeth Williams and still come away with a win against the Big South champion in the first round. That isn't to diminish what Winthrop did in winning a school-record 24 games this season, but an undersized team found itself in exactly the wrong matchup against waves of height that Winthrop coach Kevin Cook compared to facing the French Foreign Legion.

The Blue Devils more than doubled up the Eagles on the boards and effectively closed off all access to the lane.

They didn't even need to tax Williams and Peters all that much. Freshman Oderah Chidom, who hadn't scored in double figures since late January, scored 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Classmate Kendall McCravey-Cooper, who hadn't scored in double figures all season and totaled just one point in her four most recent appearances, scored 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting and added 10 rebounds.

"They're long and they're very strong." Cook said.

But to make that asset matter as the competition stiffens, be it in career days from the freshmen or the more familiar cast of characters, they need point guard play. And it can't come from Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones.

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