DURHAM, N.C. – Redshirt freshman Rebecca Greenwell and freshman Azura Stevens posted career-high double-doubles in the seventh-ranked Duke Blue Devils’ 83-51 home-opening win over the Marquette Golden Eagles at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
The Blue Devils started their season on the road, posting 90-40 and 82-66 wins over Alabama and Old Dominion respectively over the last week, before beginning a stretch of three consecutive home games, beginning with the Golden Eagles.
Greenwell finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 33 minutes while Stevens contributed an efficient 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 18 minutes to pace Duke to its third consecutive win of the season.
Senior Elizabeth Williams (12 points, 7 rebound s) and sophomore Oderah Chidom (12 points, 6 rebounds) rounded out the list of double-digit scorers who led the Blue Devils to their 133rd win over an unranked opponent at home.
While finishing the game on an 18-0 run, the Blue Devils struggled at times to contain Marquette’s outside shooting.
Arlesia Morse led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, all scored during the second half, shooting 5-of-12 from beyond the arc after going scoreless during the first 20 minutes.
A 56-34 rebounding performance, coupled with a team-total 20 assists led to a 42-percent shooting output from the field and a 19-for-22 effort from the free throw line.
“An interesting game defensively,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“I think we really ratcheted it up a little bit at keeping them at 51 or below, and really having good team defense.”
Wiliams won the tip and got the ball back inside to post Duke’s first points just eight seconds into the game.
Marquette took an 8-4 lead following successive misses from Greenwell as well as a lack of ball control and poor shot selection by Duke’s offense.
Greenwell struggled early on, missing her first three shot attempts, but finally got on the board soon after from the free throw line, pulling Duke closer, 8-6, at the 14:40 mark.
A turnaround jumper from Williams soon tied it up and following a shot block by Stevens, the Blue Devils went to work and never looked back.
Greenwell hit a three and followed it up with a transition layup on a pass from senior guard Ka’lia Johnson (4 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and Duke led 13-8.
Following the under-12-minute media timeout, Williams continued Duke’s eventual 18-4 scoring run that was powered by its defensive play.
Marquette continued to miss shots, get shots blocked, and turned the ball over which allowed the Blue Devils ample opportunities to control the lead and the game – building up a margin as large as 25 points.
Greenwell got hot from the field, Stevens created problems for Marquette’s guards with her imposing and long six-foot-five-inch frame by tipping and intercepting pass attempts, and Duke’s rebounding effectiveness improved.
Chidom extended the lead to 20 points, 32-12, with seven minutes to play, and the lead continue to grow as Duke’s press and traps created Marquette turnovers and more scoring opportunities.
Duke led 42-20 at the half, shooting 41-percent from the field, a perfect 12-for-12 from the free throw line, while holding Marquette to only 20-percent shooting from the field.
“That’s a very good Duke basketball team,” Marquette head coach Carolyn Kieger said.
“Our players fought. We had a 12-15-minute stretch where we played really hard.”
Marquette went on a quick 11-4 run to start the second half and continued to take its chances of scoring from beyond the arc, finishing with a total of 39 three-point attempts for the game.
“Our coach wanted us to play hard,” Morse said.
“When we came out at halftime we said, ‘just cut the lead down’. I think it was 20 when we went into halftime and we wanted to cut it down to 12, then to eight – each media (timeout). That’s what kept us motivated.”
The Golden Eagles did eventually achieve their goal of coming to within 12 points, trailing 61-49 with just under 10 minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get.
Similar to the start of the game, the Blue Devils struggled to defend the perimeter effectively early in the second half, and allowed the Golden Eagles, Morse in particular, to convert on shot attempts.
Missing layups and shots in close didn’t help Duke during the first five minutes of the half and allowed Marquette to get as close as it did.
“It was a little irritating to have anybody come into our building and hit five three’s,” McCallie said.
“I think that’s where the team changed. Wake up – we’re in a competitive game here. We’ve gotta’ do what we do and the team kind of took it from there – executed and attacked – found number four (Morse) and did the things we’re supposed to do.”
Stevens then began Duke’s final 22-2 run that effectively overwhelmed the Golden Eagles defense for the rest of the game.
Greenwell kept shooting, scoring a layup and hitting a three with under four minutes to play, and Duke led 77-51.
McCallie subbed in a third unit consisting of freshman guard Sierra Calhoun (5 points, 2 rebounds) and forwards Erin Mathias (4 points, 1 assist) and Lynee Belton (2 points), who along with sophomore Kendall Cooper and transfer Mercedes Riggs maintained Marquette’s scoreless finish.
“I was very impressed with our group at the end,” McCallie said.
“They gave us great energy. They might have played the defense better than anybody else played it, just in terms of their focus.”