Duke 83, Albany 48
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie was happy to welcome one of her former assistants to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
McCallie’s fifth-ranked Blue Devils weren’t as hospitable to Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.
Freshmen Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston both scored 15 points to lead Duke to an 83-48 win over Albany on Thursday night.
It was the first matchup between McCallie and Abrahamson-Henderson, in her first season as Albany’s head coach after working for McCallie at Maine and Michigan State.
“What’s nice about coaching against a former assistant is that she knows we’re serious about the game,” McCallie said. “There’s no time for thinking about anything but the game when it’s going on. You can talk before the game and you can talk after the game.”
Jasmine Thomas added 11 points for the Blue Devils, who never trailed as they improved to 10-0 for the fifth time in program history.
Duke shot a season-best 58.9 percent from the field and had a season-high 19 steals en route to its 37th consecutive home win in December.
The Blue Devils, who defeated No. 7 Texas A&M 61-58 on Monday, caught a rare breather during their challenging non-conference schedule. They led by as many as 38 points in the second half, putting all five of their freshmen on the court together during one six-minute stretch.
“It’s really important to play the game the same, regardless of who you play,” McCallie said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is; it matters what Duke does. I thought particularly in the second half, we did a little bit better job of that.”
The Blue Devils made a season-high 10 3-pointers in 21 attempts, including 6-of-10 shooting from 3-point range in the second half.
Felicia Johnson scored 18 points to lead the Great Danes (6-3), who have lost three of four since a 5-0 start. Ebone Henry had 10 points for Albany.
Duke led 34-15 at halftime thanks to its ability to generate points off Albany’s miscues. The Blue Devils scored 18 points off 16 turnovers in the first half, while the Great Danes failed to score off any of Duke’s 11 turnovers before halftime.
“They’re so long,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “Their arms are very deceptive. You think they’re not in the passing lane, but they are because of their reach.”
The Blue Devils hit Albany with two 7-0 runs in the first 10 minutes of the game, but they added to that cushion with a 9-0 run over the final 2:57 of the first half. Their surge coincided with a small skirmish along the sideline near midcourt.
Duke’s Kathleen Scheer and Albany’s Julie Forster battled for a loose ball, with Forster getting called for a foul as Scheer wound up out of bounds. Official Luis Gonzalez viewed a replay of the sequence before calling Johnson for a deadball technical foul for pushing after the play.
Gray missed the technical free throws for the Blue Devils, but the Great Danes turned over the ball on their next four possessions as Duke stretched its lead with a 3-pointer by Liston sandwiched between layups by Gray and Allison Vernerey.
Duke put the game out of reach with an 11-2 run early in the second half. Thomas assisted on two layups by Vernerey and made an off-balance scoop shot along the baseline to ignite the run.
“In the first half, we were in a rush somewhat and had a lot of turnovers,” Gray said. “In the second half, we came out and were more settled.”