Aside from new faces on each bench and several more ACC title banners in the rafters, little seemed to have changed a decade after the Blue Devils last blew out UNC Greensboro in Durham 10 years ago.

Just days after suffering its worst loss of the season thus far, No. 14 Duke took care of business against the Spartans Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, handling its Southern Conference opponent 85-54. The Blue Devils were in control on both ends of the floor, finishing with 24 assists and 17 steals as a team in a much-needed win in the first of five straight home games coming on the heels of a humbling road loss at South Carolina. 

“It was a good game for us, I thought we got better. It’s important to get better in every game, and I think we did,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “It was more about us, just our team and about what we’re trying to do. We’re just getting different kinds of structures to how we want to attack.”

Senior Erin Mathias shattered her career high with 24 points and scored eight in the first quarter to help the Blue Devils jump out to a quick eight-point lead. Duke (7-2) was particularly hot in the first half, shooting better than 61 percent from the field in each of the first two quarters.

After building their early lead, the Blue Devils withstood a bit of a run themselves to begin the second quarter, as UNC Greensboro (4-5) scored the first six points of the period to cut the Duke advantage to two. The close game didn’t last long, though, as the Blue Devils quickly answered back with a run of their own to stretch the lead to 12 midway through the quarter. 

Duke extended its lead to 15 at the half, thanks largely to the outstanding play of Mathias and graduate student Lexie Brown, who drained both her 3-point attempts and had 12 points heading into the locker room. Brown finished fairly close to a triple-double with 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

“Lexie’s game was just fluid and really focused and just really good, in all categories,” McCallie said. “That was just great to watch and see, especially the assists and steals, [and] creating everything on the floor.”

The Spartans made a pair of free throws to start the second half, but Duke went into a full-court press early in the third quarter and immediately got back-to-back steals to help stretch its advantage to 18. The Blue Devils had four steals in a span of five UNC Greensboro possessions, allowing just one field goal for the first nine minutes of the second half. The Spartans shot 30.9 percent from the field against a Duke defense that entered the game allowing opponents to shoot just 38.0 percent from the floor. 

“We’ve been working really hard on getting stops, keeping our hands up, getting deflections,” Brown said. “I’ve got to credit my team for doing well on our switches because we confused [UNC Greensboro] a little bit. We just made them hesitant with the ball, and when teams are hesitant, it’s easier to take it from them.”

By the end of the third quarter, the Blue Devils’ 15-point halftime lead had stretched to 27 to put the game out of reach. The Spartans simply could not hold onto the ball in the face of Duke’s pressure after halftime, committing 13 more turnovers after coughing the ball up nine times in the first half. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, committed just 10 turnovers all game.

Graduate student Bego Faz Davalos got the first start of her Duke career over freshman Mikayla Boykin after a disappointing team showing against the Gamecocks Sunday. Davalos adds considerable height to the Blue Devil lineup compared to Boykin and bolstered Duke down low after it was outscored in the paint by 22 Sunday. Although Duke did have a much better performance in the post thanks to Mathias, Davalos did not provide much additional scoring. But the Fresno State transfer was second on the team with six rebounds in 18 minutes, the most time she has seen on the floor this season. 

“Bego did some good things [against South Carolina], being composed, being physical. While we have these games in December before the ACC season, we’re still working on our team and we’re still kind of experimenting,” McCallie said. “Mikayla was great off the bench. I thought she was very calm and composed and very good. It’s not so much about starting, it’s about trying to build the team, its about trying to figure out what works.”

Despite their general dominance, the Blue Devils struggled for the second straight game from beyond the arc, finishing 4-of-15 from deep. Graduate student Rebecca Greenwell had an underwhelming performance offensively for the second time in as many games and went 0-for-5 from the perimeter after entering the game needing just two 3-pointers to set a new Duke program record.

Greenwell will get another chance to break the record in Duke’s next contest, a matchup with Winthrop Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cameron.