The Oregon Ducks are Oregon State’s archrivals, but the Beavers might have a new nemesis—”Ducky.”

Leaonna Odom—nicknamed affectionately by teammate Faith Suggs after the goofy duck in the movie Land Before Time—burst open the dam for Duke Saturday as a force in the paint.

After seeing the floor for just 16 minutes due to foul trouble Thursday against Old Dominion, Odom helped the No. 16 Blue Devils down No. 18 Oregon State 72-65 Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium by bleeding the Beavers to death in the paint in the first half. The 6-foot-2 forward scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds to give the Blue Devils their seventh consecutive home win against a ranked team, helping make up for a relatively off shooting day from star guard Lexie Brown, who went 5-of-14 from the field.

“I came out there with a different mindset and my teammates put me in position to where I was able to score,” Odom said. “Coach P told me in the last game that I needed to learn how to play in foul trouble. Then I took that to mind and had a no fear mentality and went from there.”

But with Odom quiet down the stretch due to defensive adjustments, Brown took over late in the fourth quarter and wound up leading the team with 19 points thanks to a few trips to the foul line to ice the win, and graduate student Rebecca Greenwell added 17 points.

Duke locked down an offensive-minded Oregon State team, holding it to shoot just 9-of-25 from beyond the arc and frustrating 6-foot-5 star center Marie Gulich—who turned the ball over five times and was whistled for four fouls. The Beavers played a four-out, one-in style similar to the one that helped Villanova toppled the Blue Devils two weeks ago, but head coach Joanne P. McCallie said the task of guarding the towering Gulich made it even harder. 

The Blue Devils (4-1) didn’t completely shut Gulich down by any stretch—she scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds—and the Beavers never went away, cutting the lead to one point midway through the fourth quarter after an and-one from star guard Mikayla Pivec and a 3-pointer from Kat Tudor.

“Our offense had gotten stymied there because we were dribbling too much—we were just not moving,” McCallie said. “It was difficult, and I’m glad we worked through that stretch. The team got focused and came out stronger.”

Greenwell shook off a first-half shooting slump to lift Duke late, scoring 14 points after the break, and Brown sparked a quick 9-2 run to pull away from Oregon State. Brown decisively swung the momentum in the Blue Devils' favor with two straight steals and coast-to-coast layups to give them an eight point lead with 2:47 left. The guard had sagged off on defense, allowing passes around the arc for most of the game—but changed that approach late. 

“I wasn’t really active stealing the ball the entire game, so I think they got a little bit lax offensively,” Brown said. “I saw an opportunity to take a chance defensively in a tight game. Their nerves were on edge and our nerves are on edge, so I just capitalized on that.”

Odom led Duke to a 35-26 halftime lead, owning the post with 12 points and six rebounds in the first half. The sophomore forward used her quickness in the post to help the Blue Devils outscore the Beavers 16-10 in the paint in the first half, forcing them to adapt defensively—with good results, as Odom scored just four in the second half. 

“We impacted their on-ball a little bit better,” Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said.
“She was a recipient of Lexie’s playmaking off the on-ball screen. Lexie commands a lot of attention, so she pulled our help up and then made great passes as Odom rolled to the rim. Then our positioning got better.”

Although Duke had the bulk of its scoring in the post, its light-out 3-point shooting also helped it pull ahead of the Beavers (3-2) early. Brown’s steal midway through the first half and ensuing 3-pointer helped spark a 12-0 run, giving the Blue Devils an early 19-11 lead. Duke was 5-of-9 from deep in the first half, led by Brown's 2-of-3 ledger, and finished 9-of-19 overall. 

Duke built on its lead with stout defense in the second quarter, allowing just 10 points and leaning on an early 11-5 run despite not making a shot from the field for the final 5:20 of the period.

One lingering concern is the Blue Devil bench’s continued struggles—it scored just eight points Saturday. For the second straight game, Haley Gorecki was the only reserve who made significant contributions, with seven of the eight points. 

McCallie said she wants to only run a seven-player rotation in November and lauded Gorecki’s improvements after not playing for nearly two full seasons. 

“I have a lot of confidence in Haley. It’s fun to see her game coming—she’s starting to click,” McCallie said. “Her teammates love it. She makes everyone smile for some reason—she just does that. For a lot of reasons actually, her comeback for one.”

The Blue Devils will make a quick turnaround to take on Presbyterian Sunday at Cameron Indoor Stadium at 2 p.m. McCallie hopes the win will give the team momentum going forward, especially defensively.

“Our whole team sent a message with the tenacity and the defense we played,” McCallie said. “We did a lot of different things, and to have 17 assists and nine turnovers—you look at that turnover margin, and that’s pretty much the game. In games like this, you cannot turn the ball over and give people second and third chances.”