DURHAM, N.C. – The 14th-ranked Duke Blue Devils added another win, a 62-48 decision over the Pittsburgh Panthers, to their resume on Sunday.
With 4,013 looking on at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Lexie Brown led the Blue Devils (22-4, 10-3) with 18 points along with 11 from Rebecca Greenwell as the Blue Devils led early and didn’t look back.
They won their 15th game in a row at home while continuing play into the latter part of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season schedule.
The Blue Devils kept the Panthers (12-13, 3-9) to 26 percent shooting during the first half and led 29-19 at the break fueled by Brown’s production as well as that of Leaonna Odom who scored her game-total seven during that span.
Duke’s defense, led by five rebounds and three blocks from Kendall Coooper and three steals and two blocks from Odom, forced Pitt to attempt numerous uncontested shots from the perimeter.
Many of them missed the mark.
“Defense has always been a big factor for us,” Cooper said.
“We talk about it at practice and we talk about it in film. I think I get out there with a defensive mindset—we all do. I think defense starts the game off right for us.”
Brown and Greenwell led Duke’s charge in scoring 18 points off fast-break transition and 15 off turnovers while dropping two 3-pointers apiece as well.
“Our back line has done a good job letting the front line know where the shooters are,” Brown added.
“We also have a lot of bigger guards, guards that are taller than most guards, and I think our length really bothers people as well.”
Facing a 2-3 zone defense from Pitt, the Blue Devils offense struggled during the second half, but not to a costly level by any means.
“This was obviously a blue collar game—very defensive, and poor shooting by both teams,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“I like the fact that we out-rebounded them, and that we were defensively consistent.”
Outscored 17-11 during the final period, Duke had a rougher landing than it would have liked to end the game with, but still managed to keep an opposing defense to under 40-percent shooting for the 10th straight game.
Coaching in her 800th career game, McCallie was pleased with the opportunity to sub in many players into the game at this point in the season.
“I think it was a good day,” McCallie concluded.
“Obviously we played a lot of minutes and spread them out and everybody got an opportunity. I think Faith Suggs (7 points, 2 rebounds) gives us a good energy because she’s always ready to go, and she did some nice things offensively; Crystal Primm (3 points, 2 rebounds) as well. It was a little bit of everybody. We are still trying to get the most out of everybody, but I think we took a few steps today.”
Duke: Lexie Brown – 18 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists; Rebecca Greenwell – 11 points, 6 rebounds; Kyra Lambert – 8 points, 2 rebounds; Leaonna Odom – 7 rebounds, 9 rebounds, 3 steals
Pitt: Brandi Harvey-Carr – 12 points, 6 rebounds; Brenna Wise – 11 points, 12 rebounds; Kauai Bradley – 7 points, 3 rebounds; 3 assists
Duke 29, Pitt 19
Brown dropped 11 points to go with Odom’s seven as Duke shot 38 percent from the field compared to Pitt’s 26 percent.
Duke dominated on the defensive boards which kept the Panthers offense stifled and forced 10 three-point shots with only two dropping.
The Blue Devils also struggled from long range, hitting 2-of-9, but converting on fast break and post-play down low.
Duke keeping Pitt’s shooting to 26 percent during the first half set the tone in getting the lead and holding on to it for the duration.
Lambert opened the game’s scoring with a dribble-drive jumper from the right and started a 7-0 Blue Devils run during the first 90 seconds of play.
Cooper swatted away three shot attempts from Pitt during that time.
The Panthers dropped their first basket around the seven-minute mark as Duke led 9-2.
Strong defensive rebounding led by Cooper and Greenwell kept Pitt in check as the Blue Devils led 13-4 with 3:32 remaining.
While the Panthers worked harder to pull closer, a final-second shot from Brown had Duke ahead 17-8.
Pitt finally found a little rhythm in its shooting led by Wise, and cut the Blue Devils lead to five, trailing 18-13 at the 7:59 mark.
Turnovers and missed shots highlighted the Blue Devils’ shooting problems early until Greenwell dropped her first 3-pointer of the game.
A steal and a fast-break solo layup soon had Duke ahead 23-16.
Following a jumper from Suggs and free throws from Brown, the Blue Devils’ advantage hit 10 points.
Even with Duke committing two turnovers, Pitt was held scoreless for the final 2:46 of the period.
The Blue Devils led 29-19 at halftime.
The period started with multiple long-range attempts as both teams dropped 3’s early on.
Brown’s and Greenwell’s outnumbered Wise’s as Duke eventually extended its lead by putting together an 11-4 run.
The Blue Devils led by as many as 17 with 6:15 remaining.
Another 7-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer from Suggs extended the Duke lead to 47-25 with 2:40 remaining.
The Panthers managed to finish the period with two consecutive scores as the Blue Devils lead stood at 51-31.
Both teams put up a tighter defensive stance which forced many shots with few successful results.
Pitt played a 2-3 zone and Brandi Harvey-Carr forced shots in the paint that proved difficult to make for the Blue Devils.
Those that did fall allowed Duke to hold a 56-39 lead with five minutes remaining.
The Panthers dropped a 3 from Kauai Bradley while two consecutive Duke misses ended with a layup from Lynee Belton to put Duke up 58-44.
A shifty dribble-drive at the left elbow ended with a jumper from Lambert with a minute remaining.
One final basket for Pitt from Wise ended the game’s scoring in Duke’s favor – a 14-point margin of victory.