NCAA WBB: Stevens, Blue Devils ground Eagles for 78-50 win

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DURHAM, N.C. – Forward Azura Stevens almost got the triple-double as the 14th-ranked Duke Blue Devils grounded the Winthrop Eagles and posted a 78-50 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.

Stevens finished 7-of-11 from the field with 18 points, 14 rebounds, a career-high eight blocks, and three steals.

Guard Rebecca Greenwell led the backcourt with a 5-of-10 performance that netted her 17 points to go along with four rebounds in the two teams’ second meeting all-time.

The two squads first met in the 2014 NCAA first round of play in Cameron, a matchup that ended with an 87-45 decision in the Blue Devils’ favor.

Having recently lost their senior center, Schaquilla Nunn, to a broken foot injury, Winthrop still managed to go toe-to-toe with the longer Duke squad led by solid performances from Erica Williams (17 points, 5 rebounds), Ezinne Mbamalu (10 points, 3 rebounds), and Arianne Whitaker (8 points, 9 rebounds).

Coming off a season-opening 57-50 win at Penn on Friday, Greenwell and Stevens led the charge early on to put Duke ahead 11-2 during the first three minutes of play.

The Blue Devils kept their lead hovering around double digits and led 27-17 after the first quarter.

“It felt good to get off to a good start tonight,” Greenwell said.

“I definitely didn’t play as well as I wanted to at Penn, but I think overall the team did a lot better tonight than the first game out, but we’re definitely growing and getting better with each game.”

Winthrop settled in and put together a 12-5 run during the second quarter as the Blue Devils committed nine turnovers, many coming from the team’s younger players as they continued to adjust to playing at the collegiate game tempo.

Duke stayed even with the Eagles during the quarter and held a 10-point lead, 41-31, at halftime.

“It was just a good game for us to play,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“Winthrop is a scrappy team and they played really hard, and so we had to play very hard. We played much better defense in the second half, and we were sloppy defensively in the first half.”

While the Blue Devils committed 12 more turnovers during the final two quarters of play, the 3,582 in attendance saw bright spots from the three freshmen and two sophomores who earned playing time throughout the game.

Duke went on to outrebound and outscore the Eagles by an 18-point margin for the remainder of the game and claimed their second win of the season.

The team’s younger lineup led by freshmen Kyra Lambert (8 points, 4 assists), Angela Salvadores (7 points, 4 assists) and Crystal Primm (6 points, 2 assists) helped to keep Winthrop to 31 percent shooting, while outrebounding the Eagles 51-36.

Defensively, sophomore Erin Mathias made her first collegiate start and posted six points and six rebounds, while junior Oderah Chidom finished with four points and seven rebounds, and senior Amber Henson blocked a career-high five shots off the bench.

“We all chipped in,” Stevens said.

“At halftime we all knew that defense was something that we needed to keep working on, so at this point it’s just actually going out there and doing it. I think we did a good job in the second half stopping them consistently. Ultimately, no matter how many points we score, it really comes down to how many points the other team scores.”