Duke featured five players who finished the game with double-digit scoring totals – Tricia Liston (20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists), Haley Peters (12 points, 12 rebounds), Richa Jackson (15 points, 4 rebounds), Elizabeth Williams (13 points, 5 blocks), and Alexis Jones (12 points, 3 assists).
While Duke (3-0) extended its unbeaten streak at home against unranked opponents to 124 games and won its 400th game in program history on the famed court, Alabama (0-3) continued its early-season struggles to earn a win.
With the two programs meeting only one other time when then 5th-seeded Duke lost to then 4th-seeded Alabama during the second round of the 1995 NCAA tournament, the end result was much different almost 19 years later.
Duke out-rebounded Alabama 47-27, shot 52 percent from the field, and tallied 22 team assists and left little doubt which was the better team.
The Crimson Tide tried valiantly to put points on the board with four scorers contributing double-digit scoring results, but the Blue Devils’ depth enabled them to play 12 players and created numerous matchup problems for Alabama.
Leading 47-24 at halftime, Duke increased its defensive focus and made it difficult for the Crimson Tide to put together any significant scoring runs during the latter half of the game.
“We mixed up our defenses a lot,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“It caused our team to think and also have to really work on position. There were some excellent things that we did and there were some things that we were behind the ball a little bit. It’s part of the game. It’s November and we’re all kind of figuring this out together.”
While guard Chelsea Gray didn’t figure heavily in scoring points, finishing with four, she contributed significantly with a game-high nine assists and showed her strength in taking a school-record four charge calls.
The Blue Devils’ play was not perfect as they committed 21 turnovers throughout the game, but McCallie was happy with the result, all things considered.
“I thought we got better and had improvements, she said.
“Lessons to learn and we’re on to Thursday.”