Duke women hand Miami its first conference loss

Duke had its twin towers combination working almost to perfection, and there was little Miami could do to stop it.

Elizabeth Williams had 24 points and 11 rebounds while freshman Azura Stevens added a season-high 20 points as the No. 16 Blue Devils blew past the Hurricanes 68-53 on Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It was Miami’s first conference loss.

“We did the things we wanted to do,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We played excellent team defense. Obviously Elizabeth was very productive with offensive rebounding (six) and scoring, but she was absolutely critical defensively. She contested shots and really working hard in the paint.

“The same for Azura. I loved the way she created mismatches inside. We played as a team, we played together and we played smart. We’re a very, very good team when we play smart.”

Necole Sterling had 17 points to lead Miami, which is 0-6 at Cameron with former Duke All-American Katie Meier as head coach.

“We couldn’t combat (the Williams-Stevens combination) much, and the ones who could combat it were in foul trouble,” Meier said. “So that made it difficult; basically it was size vs. speed. I told my team speed could win the game if we played fast and we pressure.

“But we didn’t really bring the pressure. We were hesitant; we backed up a little bit. So size won today. Speed didn’t play hard enough.”

Duke (13-5, 4-1) shot 54.5 percent to 26.1 percent for Miami (14-1, 4-1), which had only 10 two-point field goals. Amber Henson grabbed 10 rebounds for Duke, which dominated the boards 47-33.

//The Blue Devils// committed 19 turnovers to the Hurricanes’ 11.

Duke played without sophomore forward Oderah Chidom, who is out following a shoulder dislocation, but the Blue Devils didn’t seem to miss a beat.

Duke’s biggest lead was 68-51 on a Ka’lia Johnson 3-pointer with two minutes to go.

“(Azura) makes things a lot easier,” said Williams, who had her 24th career double-double and passed Jasmine Thomas for seventh on Duke’s all-time scoring list and now has 1,710. “She’s long ( 6-foot-5) and she’s always on the boards. I trust if I shoot and miss it that she’s going to be there to get it. I’m sure she feels the same way about me. So it’s just nice to have another player in there that’s really consistent and aggressive.”

Duke led 30-25 after a nip-and-tuck first half in which neither team led by more than five. There were four ties and six lead changes.

Stevens had 11 and Williams 10 at the break for Duke, which shot 56.5 percent for the period to the Hurricanes’ 23.5 and dominated the boards 23-13. But Miami, led by Sterling’s 12, hit five 3-pointers in the period to none for Duke and committed just one turnover to the Blue Devils’ 10.

“I think it just came with time,” Stevens said of the inside partnership with Williams. “In the beginning I had been playing guard, but when I started playing post it just took a little bit of time for us to get a feel for each other. It’s easy to pass down to her. She’s great. It’s fun playing with her. She’s taught me a lot.”

Duke’s next game is Thursday at Boston College. Its next home game is Jan. 29 against Pittsburgh. Miami hosts Virginia on Wednesday.