DURHAM, N.C. – The 17th-ranked Duke Blue Devils took the lead and kept it in a 62-45 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers in front of 4,333 in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Duke (15-6, 6-2) extended its home winning streak against unranked opponents (12-1 this season) to 142 games.
With forward Amber Henson out with a knee injury suffered in the Blue Devils’ win at UNC last Sunday, the team’s roster was shortened, but finished with productive results.
Azura Stevens (14 points, 12 rebounds, three assists) and Odera Chidom (10 points, 10 rebounds) led the Blue Devils offense which featured eight of nine players contributing.
While Duke has relied on Stevens and Elizabeth Williams to carry the load in its last three games averaging a combined 43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists, 11 blocks and eight steals, Chidom’s spot in the lineup was a key component to Duke’s success in this one.
After missing two games due to a shoulder injury, Chidom’s output provided Williams some time to rest, finishing the game with nine points, three rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 20 minutes.
“I loved to see Oderah out there rebounding and attacking like she did,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“I’ve never been injured before, so sitting out two games was the first time I’ve ever sat,” Chidom said.
“It’s great being out there. It’s great that the injury wasn’t that severe. I’m glad that I’m playing today.”
Brianna Kiesel carried the offensive load for Pitt (13-4,3-4) with a 13-point, three-assist performance, along with Fred Potvin contributing 11 points while hitting 3-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Though leading the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (41.2) in seven ACC contests, Duke had allowed an ACC-most 63 3-pointers on the year.
Kiesel and Monica Wignot, the ACC’s top perimeter shooters coming into the game didn’t connect as well as was expected.
Duke minimized Wignot to finish below her season average of 13 points per game, as she scored eight to go with five rebounds on the night.
“They had so many weapons inside,” Pittsburgh coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said.
“We just couldn’t capitalize. They forced us to take shots quicker. They took us out of our rhythm.”
Duke committed a game-high 25 turnovers to Pitt’s 15.
Rebecca Greenwell (10 points, five rebounds) contributed valuable points, and started by extending the Blue Devils’ lead to 12 points, leading 22-10 with eight minutes to play in the first half.
Kiesel tried valiantly to keep Pitt close, but another three from Greenwell made that difficult.
Duke’s length presented problems for the Panthers who could only find small spots to take advantage of the Blue Devils defense.
Stevens extended the Duke lead to 17 and then 19 points, leading 33-14.
While Pitt put together a 6-2 run, Duke’s 52-percent shooting in the opening half didn’t waiver as the Blue Devils carried a 36-20 lead into the halftime break.
Duke continued what it started early in the second half and didn’t give the Panthers much room to work with, finishing at an even 50-percent shooting on the night.
Kendall Cooper (eight points, six rebounds) extended the lead to 41-23 with a free throw while Pitt struggled from the field and contended with exceptional defensive efforts that denied even guaranteed scoring opportunities in transition.
Ka’lia Johnson (4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) tipped the ball away from an easy layup for Kiesel while Cooper and Williams followed that up with tremendous aerial shot blocks.
The Panthers’ 29-percent shooting couldn’t match up as Williams extended the Duke lead to 58-37.
Pitt never got closer than 13 points for the rest of the game.
The Blue Devils dominated in the paint (34-16), took advantage of their free throw opportunities (11-18), and rounded it all out with 5-of-12 perimeter shooting.