No. 8 Duke runs over Buffalo in 88-54 win

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

DURHAM, N.C. – Freshman guard Sierra Calhoun paced the eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils in an 88-54 win over the Buffalo Bulls in front of 3,794 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.

Finishing with 21 points and seven rebounds, including a four-of-seven conversion rate beyond the arc, the freshman guard’s performance fueled the Blue Devils offense during the final 20 minutes of play.

Duke (4-0) finished the game with a 44-percent shooting performance while limiting Buffalo’s finish to 25 percent, but the Blue Devils couldn’t establish a steady shooting rhythm early on.

“I appreciate our second half, compared to our first,” McCallie said.

“That was because of our energy.”

Double-double performances from Elizabeth Williams (14points, 10 rebounds ) and Rebecca Greenwell (10 points, 13 rebounds ) along with double-digit finishes from freshmen Azura Stevens (12 points, seven rebounds) and Erin Mathias (11 points, six rebounds) pieced together the entire body of work.

However, it didn’t all come together until the latter stages of the game.

“I thought we got outscrapped – we got outfought,” McCallie said of the team’s first-half play.

“That kind of stuff can’t happen.”

Guard Camera Miley (15 points, six rebounds) and forward Alexus Malone (14 points, five rebounds) paced the Bulls (2-2) in the gutsy effort against the Blue Devils.

It didn’t all go according to plan as Duke turned the ball over 20 times throughout the game – an unacceptable amount according to McCallie.

“There was certainly frustration at times,” McCallie said.

“We didn’t have that swag that we needed to have….you gotta’ be a 40-minute team.”

Duke led 36-25 at halftime.

Calhoun then came out firing as she dropped her second three of the game and extended the Duke lead to 39-25 on the first shot attempt of the second half.

The lead then stretched to 43-25 as a result of Calhoun’s hot hand.

Employing a smothering press and applying midcourt pressure, Duke eventually pushed the lead up higher.

With just over 12 minutes to play, the Blue Devils were well on their way to finishing the game as originally expected and intended.

While only getting to the free throw line twice during the first half, Duke converted 17-of-29 attempts in the second half to put an exclamation mark on the win.

“When you are not getting to free throw line, you’re not being aggressive,” McCallie said.

“It’s s an open shot, a rest, but you need to get there.”

Calhoun heeded the message and broke a school record for consecutive free throws by a freshman, dropping her 14th shot from the line to start the season, a mark that surpassed LA Sparks forward Lindsey Harding’s mark of 13 established during her first year at Duke back in 2002-2003

“You definitely have to be a good free throw shooter to be a good player,” Calhoun said.

“It’s definitely something I’ve been working on.”

In the end, what eventually resulted was another blowout win as part of a record-setting performance.

Four freshman scored in double digits in a game for the first time in school history, and Duke pulled down a school-record 69 rebounds – a mark that had stood at 68 since 1979.

“I think that’s outstanding,” McCallie said.

“Our young players are really working hard. I think they’re starting to see things a little bit more clearly. They’ll see things a lot more clearly in the next couple of weeks, but I think they’re doing a great job.”

Notes: Greenwell and Stevens recorded double-doubles for the third game in four played so far this season…Williams came into the game leading the ACC in blocked shots, averaging just over four per game, but didn’t record one against the Bulls – only the second time she hadn’t in her collegiate career……Coming into the game tied for the ACC lead with a perfect 12-of-12 free throw success rate, it was expected that Greenwell would tie Harding’s record, but she hit the rim on her first shot and the opportunity was seized by Calhoun to accomplish the feat.