Speed killed in Duke’s lone exhibition game, with the Blue Devils routing Alaska Anchorage and validating their high preseason ranking.

Duke hosted the Seawolves at Cameron Indoor Stadium Sunday evening and won 87-56 in a game that was never very competitive. Graduate student Lexie Brown led the way with 27 points and kept the team energized with multiple fast-break layups off steals by Rebecca Greenwell. Greenwell also provided a consistent scoring option for the Blue Devils with 20 points, going 5-of-9 from the 3-point line. 

“I appreciated Lexie’s leadership as well as [Greenwell’s] and [Leaonna Odom’s],” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I thought all three of them stepped up and did some really nice things, but there is tons of room for improvement.”

Brown was active on defense, earning two steals and a highlight-reel block in the fourth quarter. She not only sparked the team’s fast-paced offense, but also helped hold Alaska Anchorage to just 33.3 percent shooting on the defensive side of the ball.

“Defense is one of my favorite things to do,” Brown said. “With Kyra being out, I’ve had to pick up the defensive energy she brought to the team.... I just want everyone to feed off of my defensive energy. Being that leader on defense is something I am proud of and work very hard at.”

Duke fans watched nervously as freshman Mikayla Boykin limped to the sideline in the middle of the second quarter and did not go back into the game. Boykin, the only true freshman in the starting lineup, has the potential to be a scoring force for the Blue Devils this season, and with junior Kyra Lambert still sidelined by an ACL injury, Duke hopes it did not lose another scoring option in Boykin for an extended period of time. 

Boykin finished with five points and three assists in 16 minutes and returned to the bench with ice around her knee in the second half.

The Blue Devils opened the game with a wide open transition 3-pointer by Brown, a play that was an indicator of what was to come. Duke ended the night with 20 fast-break points, as the Seawolves could not keep up with its tempo.

The Blue Devil defense also came out in full force, beginning the game in a full-court man-to-man press that forced 10 Alaska Anchorage turnovers in the first quarter. The Blue Devils capitalized on these mistakes, earning seven steals and 14 points off turnovers in the first half. A mix of mental errors and lack of rebounding by the Seawolves made it hard for them to score to start the game. 

Senior Erin Mathias contributed to Duke’s stellar defense by clogging the paint, limiting a smaller Alaska Anchorage team to outside jumpers. This neutralized the Seawolves’ leading scorer, senior Rodericka Ware, who shot just 2-of-10 and was scoreless after the first half.

“Erin has been getting better and better,” McCallie said. “She’s finding her groove and understanding what she can do offensively and defensively.”

Mathias’ 6-foot-4 frame contributed to what seemed to be the most significant difference between the two teams: height. Duke outrebounded the Seawolves 48-34, led by sophomore Leaonna Odom, who had eight boards.

Duke’s offense looked nearly perfect against a weaker Alaska Anchorage defense, but the Blue Devils have things to tweak before heading into the regular season to play bigger and better teams. Taking care of the ball still seems to be a problem for Duke, which turned it over 22 times. Being more aggressive in a half-court setting is also something Duke can work on for its next game.

“We didn’t attack as much as I would have liked today,” McCallie said. “I know they were pressing us, but I really have a lot of confidence in Lexie and Mikayla in particular to cut through and attack...but that’s just part of growing and learning together as a team.”

The Blue Devils will travel to Phoenix next Sunday to face Grand Canyon at 5 p.m. to open up the regular season.