No. 15 Duke cared for the ball and shot well in the first half to lead No. 17 Virginia Tech on Thursday night.
The Blue Devils then added lockdown defense in the early minutes after halftime to turn the top-25 battle one-sided.
Duke held Virginia Tech scoreless over the first five minutes of the second half to open a 24-point lead and roll to an 84-59 ACC women’s basketball win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Lexie Brown scored 29 points to lead Duke, while Rebecca Greenwell added 18 points, and Kyra Lambert finished with 10 points.
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Brown also had four assists, three steals and no turnovers in her 31 minutes of play.
“Lexie had great poise,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “No turnovers playing all those minutes with the attention she draws. That was key for us.”
Duke (16-3, 4-2 ACC) shot 50.8 percent and turned the ball over just 11 times, its lowest turnover total in ACC play this season.
Virginia Tech (16-2, 3-2) shot only 32.3 percent while turning the ball over 17 times.
“We just wanted to come out with defensive intensity,” Lambert said, “putting pressure on the guards.”
By taking care of the ball better than it had all season in the first half, Duke rode that and hot shooting to build a 38-32 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils average 15.7 turnovers per game. But they committed just three in the first half, a season low for a half this season. Duke also shot 49 percent, including making 9 of 15 second-quarter shots.
Duke opened the second half with an 18-0 run to lead 56-32. Five different Duke players scored during that run, paced by Brown’s seven
The Blue Devils made 10 of 14 shots in the third quarter to pull away.
Virginia Tech kept playing hard, perhaps too hard at one point of the quarter.
With 2:45 to play in the quarter, Brown drove for a layup in transition. Virginia Tech’s Chanette Hicks fouled her from behind, sending Brown hard to the court.
The game officials reviewed the play and ruled Hicks had committed a flagrant foul. When the officials gathered McCallie and Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks at midcourt to explain, the two coaches had sharp words for each other and were pointing at each other before the officials separated them and sent them back to their respective benches.
“I was extremely concerned the way Lexie got hit,” McCallie said. “I just didn’t feel that was appropriate so we spoke about that.”
No other incidents flared up the rest of the game as Duke remained unbeaten at home this season. Brown said the play certainly bothered her, and she was glad to take it out on the Hokies with her play.
“I wasn’t taught to play that way,” said Brown, whose father, Dee Brown, played in the NBA from 1990-2002. “I don’t know who taught her to play that way, but that’s not the way you play basketball.”
Brooks said he was “very disappointed with the way that we composed ourselves after they went on that run.”
Hicks admitted that the Hokies had internal issues that showed up in their poor performance.
“I feel like they were staying together, and we weren’t,” Hicks said. “We were kind of bickering. Coach tells us all the time not to fight amongst ourselves because the other team can see that.”