DURHAM, N.C. – A scoring run in the final minutes of play made the difference as the 13th-ranked Duke Blue Devils topped No. 8 Louisville 58-55 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday.
Four straight free throws from Lexie Brown, part of a game-high 17-point performance, coupled with a clutch go-ahead basket from Rebecca Greenwell (10 points, 6 rebounds), gave Duke (13-1, 1-0) the advantage it needed to pull out the win over the Cardinals (13-3, 1-1).
“I was just trying to get to the free throw line,” Brown said.
“We were trying to kick our defense up a notch and get some steals. We were playing more aggressive.”
Even while Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen finished with a double-double, posting 16 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with 16 points from Mariya Moore and 15 from Asia Durr – it wasn’t enough.
Though outrebounded by a 37-25 margin, the Blue Devils made up for that by capitalizing on 19 Louisville turnovers to put up 18 points as well as earning points and defensive stops from Kendall Cooper (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) coming off the bench.
“Kendall’s confidence showed, and the steals she got were great,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“She’s really coming on – trending. She’s working harder and getting more relaxed in her role. That’s a great thing. It’s amazing how these kinds of games come down to single, solitary plays. They’re just the little things that happen out there. If you looked at them in isolation, you wouldn’t think it was any big deal. But it is. That’s the nature of the game”
In earning their first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) win of the season, the Blue Devils remained a perfect 9-0 at Cameron while taking a 3-2 lead in the series with Louisville, avenging a 65-48 loss to the Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center last season.
Having beaten Kentucky back on Dec. 29, Greenwell, a native of the Bluegrass State, was pleased with completing the sweep of both teams.
“It feels great … especially after going 0-2 against them on the road last year,” she said.
“It is a sweet, sweet feeling to come back and get a little revenge this year.”
Duke now prepares to travel to face Georgia Tech (Jan. 5) and No. 6 Florida State (Jan. 8) before returning home to host North Carolina on Jan. 12.
“Moving on – big games only really occur in March and April,” McCallie concluded.
“Nothing is really big about this one. There are so many games to play. What we learn and how we move forward from this game will be the test for us. I’m excited to go on the road. I think we’ve been home a little too long and are we’re a little too comfortable. I think going on the road will be perfect.”
Duke: Lexie Brown – 17 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals; Rebecca Greenwell – 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists; Kyra Lambert – 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals; Kendall Cooper – 8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Louisville: Myisha Hines-Allen – 16 points, 12 rebounds; Mariya Moore – 16 points, 4 rebounds; Asia Durr – 15 points, 3 steals
Louisville 25, Duke 23
Durr and Hines-Allen led the Cardinals with eight and six points respectively, while Brown and Lambert tallied five each for Duke.
While the lead changed hands nine times, Duke converted at a 36-percent success rate from the field to Loiusville’s 33-percent finish.
Long distance shooting for both teams was less than stellar for each side – Duke hit 29 percent (2-7) beyond the arc while Louisville dropped at a 20 percent (2-10) rate.
Louisville outrebounded Duke by a 25-14 margin.
Though Louisville outrebounded the Blue Devils by a 37-25 margin, taking advantage of turnovers and tight defensive play led by Lambert, among others, down the stretch made the difference for the Blue Devils.
Cooper’s block on Briahanna Jackson’s three-point attempt kept Duke ahead 54-53 with 31 seconds remaining.
Both teams came out firing and traded baskets with Duke leading 9-7 at the 5:00 mark.
Even while the Blue Devils went 0-for-5 for a stretch, the Cardinals could only pull even, committing four turnovers.
Coming off the bench, Crystal Primm and Cooper put up jumpers to match Durr’s three as Duke stayed ahead 13-12 with 1:29 remaining.
Another jumper from Cooper extended the Blue Devils lead to three points heading into the next period
While Duke missed three straight field goal attempts, Louisville pulled ahead.
It looked as though the Cardinals had gained some momentum, but turnovers and missed shots allowed the Blue Devils to recover with a three from Brown.
Duke held on to its 18-16 lead with 7:06 remaining.
Instead of putting up points, both sides battled each other to see who could miss the most shots in succession.
Louisville ended its 0-for-5 drought before putting up a jumper and layup to pull ahead.
Durr’s and-1 finish extended the score to 21-18 while the Blue Devils remained scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes until Greenwell dropped a free throw with 2:31 to play.
Successive banks off the glass from Lynee Belton and Lambert evened the score at 23 apiece.
A jumper from Durr then made the difference and gave the Cardinals a 25-23 lead at halftime.
A lapse in focus by Duke to start in position allowed Moore to score a quick, undefended basket.
The Cardinals extended their lead further to 31-25 at the 6:55 mark.
Duke then pulled closer following baskets from Brown and Cooper, but a hot hand from Hines-Allen kept Louisville ahead 35-30.
A drop-step and layup from Oderah Chidom (6 points, 1 rebound) followed by a steal by Brown led to a layup from Greenwell that pulled the Blue Devils ahead 39-38 with 2:12 to go.
Louisville didn’t slow down as as two 3s from Moore and Durr reset its advantage to five points.
Cooper’s final-seconds attempt from half-court missed and left Duke trailing 44-41.
A jumper from Durr was soon matched by a three-pointer from Greenwell with 7:06 to play.
A 7-0 run with Greenwell and Lambert leading the charge put Duke ahead before Durr tied it up 48-48 from the charity stripe.
In between timeouts, both teams put up points before going scoreless for upwards of three minutes.
A layup from Cooper put Duke ahead 52–51 with 1:44 to play..
While Hines-Allen responded, so did Greenwell.
Her off-balance running jumper gave the Blue Devils a 54-53 lead with 57 seconds remaining.
Cooper then blocked Jackson’s three-point attempt from the top right and put Duke in a position to force Louisville to foul in the one-possession game.
Brown dropped four straight free throws while Hines-Allen scored as the Blue Devils lead stood at 58-55 with 12.5 seconds left on the clock.
With fouls to give, Duke worked the clock down more, tripled the ball and forced Louisville’s Sydney Zambrotta to put up a desperation 3-point attempt that hit the iron, but fell wide as the final horn sounded.