DURHAM, N.C. – Guard Lexie Brown led all scorers with 25 points as the No. 21 Duke Blue Devils topped in-state opponent Elon 68-61 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Brown’s effort reached and surpassed the 1000-point career mark as she totaled 20+ points for the fifth time this season, and went a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
“I just felt like the way our offense was running, I was just getting open shots,” Brown said.
“My teammates did a really good job setting screens, setting me up for easy scores.”
Guard Rebecca Greenwell added 12 points to go with five rebounds as part of a 40-percent shooting night for the Blue Devils.
Coming off the bench, freshman Leona Odom added eight points, an assist and a block to go along with Kendall Cooper‘s seven points, eight rebounds, two steals and one assist which she tallied in 20 minutes of playing time.
While the win extended Duke’s overall record to 10-1 and came on the heels of a 74-63 win over then third-ranked South Carolina on Sunday, the results hit season lows in points scored and shooting percentage.
“Well obviously it wasn’t a terrific game for us,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“We did some things to get the ball game, but I don’t think we played the way we wanted to play. Rebounding is a concern of mine at this point in time. Rebounding was very poor on our behalf. But I think that I am happy to see that Lexie got 1,000 (career points). It is always fun for an individual thing like that to occur. From a team perspective I think there are just great lessons and we will enjoy the film tomorrow.”
Brown achieving her individual milestone was one of two interesting storylines leading into and during the game.
Led by former UNC Tar Heels standout Charlotte Smith, the Phoenix roster included Maddie McCallie, the Duke coach’s daughter.
Though McCallie saw only eight minutes of playing time during which she drained a three late in the game, it was the first time that mother and daughter faced each other on the court.
“At first, it was a little strange, but as we got warmed up and the game started, it really kind of felt like just another game,” McCallie, the player, said.
“But it was obviously fun to play in Cameron.”
The Duke coach added that she felt the opportunity to coach against her daughter’s team wasn’t difficult to prepare for, and presented a unique experience for both of them.
“I am really proud of Maddie, and I had no problem preparing for this game, no problem getting ready for this game,” McCallie said.
“I am very impressed with this team, they presented problems to us, and I think that it is a wonderful story for women’s basketball just to see different things happen in families.”
Ra’Shika White’s 19 points and seven boards led the Phoenix (4-4) who finished scoring at a 33-percent conversion rate from the field.
Tenacious play from Essence Baucom (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Shay Burnett (4 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) resulted in six combined steals that kept the Blue Devils offense off-pace throughout.
“I am proud of the effort that our team put forth tonight,” Smith said.
“The two things we talked about that we wanted to focus on in this game were defense and rebounding. We accomplished that on the boards, tying the boards 39-39, so we did a really good job there. For the most part throughout the game, I felt we did a good job defensively, so I am just really proud of our team tonight.”
The Duke coach praised Elon’s efforts.
“You have to execute, and give Elon some credit, I thought they played much harder than we did,” McCallie said.
“I thought they played much harder for four quarters and you know when you play that kind of basketball – when you kind of play hard, then you don’t – in and out of the game – that disrupts tempo (with) a lot of things – offense, defense and things of that nature. So it is a good lesson for our team. We are going to take this lesson relative to how we play. And again, I can’t take anything away from Elon. I thought they did some really nice things, and I thought they played really hard.”
While many may view the winning result against the Phoenix as a big drop-off after playing at the high tempo and intensity that Duke did to beat the Gamecocks, the newly minted millennial career-points holder put it all in perspective.
“Like Coach P said, we’re just a very balanced offensive team and some people just missed some bunnies and I just happened to be able to make shots,” Brown said.
“But on Sunday it was the opposite way around. They picked me up big time on Sunday, so I was just glad that we were able to pull out the win.”
DUKE – Lexie Brown – 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists; Rebecca Greenwell – 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists; Leaonna Odom – 8 points, 1 rebound
ELON – Ra’Shika White – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals; Essence Baucom – 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists; Meme Garner – 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Duke 29, Elon 23
Duke’s 39-percent (10-26) shooting made the difference as the Phoenix struggled, shooting only 9-of-37 or 24-percent.
Brown and Greenwell led the Blue Devils with seven points apiece, while Mathias added five.
Garner’s five points and four rebounds, along with four points each from Baucom and Burnett kept the Phoenix close.
Brown dropping her 1000th career point in the third quarter was critical.
Leading by only two points, her shot gave the Blue Devils a big push that eventually propelled them to lead by 12.
Greenwell opened the game’s scoring and Brown’s jumper put the Blue Devils ahead 5-0 early.
Duke turnovers, eventually six committed for the period, gave Elon the ball and the opportunity to pull closer.
With Duke leading 9-5, the Phoenix managed to take their first lead of the game following a 5-0 run with a three and a layup from Garner and Burnett, respectively.
Duke led 13-12 at the end of the quarter.
Duke pulled ahead 18-14 quickly with Mathias and Brown fueling the push.
Elon continued to stay close by effectively rebounding and earning turnover possessions.
Mathias triggered a 7-0 run as the Blue Devils extended their lead to 11 points, 27-16, with 3:54 to play in the half.
Duke held that advantage for five-plus minutes as Elon missed seven straight field goal attempts.
The Phoenix then managed to put together a 7-2 run and pulled within six, trailing Duke 29-23 at halftime.
Both teams put together short runs with the Phoenix starting first.
Elon continued its run as Duke led by a slim margin 31-29 early in the period.
The Blue Devils managed to fend off the surge and led 39-31 at the 5:50 mark as Brown drained her 1000th career point in doing so.
The Blue Devils continued to add to their margin, building it up to 12 points, 45-33, with three minutes remaining.
Duke carried a 53-37 lead to start the final period of play.
While the Phoenix put some points up early, the Blue Devils took advantage of their opponents’ turnovers as part of a 10-5 run that gave them a 66-47 lead, their largest of the game.
Elon then took advantage of an 0-for-6 shooting lapse by Duke and finished the game on a 14-2 run and pulled within seven of the Blue Devils by the time the final whistle blew.