CLEMSON, S.C.—After a three-game homestand that featured a humbling loss to No. 5 Notre Dame, Duke ventured nearly 300 miles south looking to regain some confidence heading into the final weeks of the regular season. 

Although their play was far from pretty, in the end, the Blue Devils got the dominant result they needed. 

No. 19 Duke never trailed in its 60-35 victory against Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum Sunday afternoon, handing the Tigers their sixth straight double-digit loss and extending the Blue Devils’ winning streak in the series to 22 games. Graduate student Lexie Brown matched a school record by knocking down a 3-pointer for the 25th game in a row—tied for the second longest active streak in the NCAA—but it was classmate Rebecca Greenwell leading the way with 17 points in her second double-double in her last three games.

Despite the noteworthy offensive performances by Greenwell and Brown, the highlight of the game for Duke was its defense, which held Clemson to worse than 30 percent shooting from the field and did not surrender a single 3-pointer. The Blue Devils also outrebounded their overmatched opponents 45-28. 

“[I’m] really pleased about the team working together, really applying a lot of ball pressure for most of the game, being able to set that attack mode a little bit, and then having the rebounding follow,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “[Clemson is] a hustling kind of team so I’m very glad that we could outhustle [them], get those rebounds, play good defense and attack from there.”

After back-to-back games of fewer than 60 points, the Blue Devils, who are averaging 70.6 points per game, finally broke through, but the offense struggled to find its rhythm for much of the game. 

Nonetheless, Duke made sure Clemson (11-15, 1-12 in the ACC) was even more uncomfortable on the other end of the floor, hounding the Tigers to force 16 turnovers. 

“I liked our aggressiveness. We’ve been practicing all week long getting after it a little bit more defensively, getting in passing lanes, causing ball pressure, and I think everyone stepped up big-time on defense,” Brown said.

Greenwell and Erin Mathias were the stars of the game for the visitors, combining for 29 points and 20 rebounds. Outside of knocking down her record-tying 3-pointer, however, Brown was quiet offensively in terms of shooting, finishing with just six points but dishing out nine assists. 

“Finding a way to find your teammates and find people, that’s really important. Lexie’s a great scorer and she’s a great offensive player overall,” McCallie said. “Yes, you want to make every shot and you want to be great every night out, but if you’re not making all the shots you can make, boy, you sure want to be productive, and I think Lexie’s very productive on the floor.”

Both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter, with neither shooting better than 30 percent from the field in the period. Despite grabbing 11 offensive rebounds, the Blue Devils (19-6, 8-4) only capitalized for three second-chance points in the opening 10 minutes and struggled to finish layups and take advantage in the paint.

After getting off to a slow start to begin the second quarter as well, Duke finally began to find its offense in the last few minutes before halftime. The Blue Devils shot better than 50 percent from the field in the period, including knocking down two 3-pointers after making just one in six attempts in the first quarter. Mathias helped lead Duke’s surge to pull away from the Tigers, finishing the first half with six points and rebounds apiece. The Blue Devils posted their season-high for boards in the first half with 28 rebounds, compared to just 11 for Clemson.

As the offense struggled to find its rhythm for much of the game with all three Duke point guards out with injuries, the Blue Devils leaned on Greenwell to provide the spark on offense. The graduate student from Owensboro, Ky., contributed 11 rebounds in addition to her 17 points and knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to help Duke cruise after the first quarter of play. 

“Becca’s aggressive. She goes after it. She plays a very concentrated game,” McCallie said. “She doesn’t get affected by anything going on around her [and] stays very focused.”

In a sloppy game for both teams that featured 29 total turnovers, the Blue Devils were able to lean on their superb defense to keep the Tigers at bay. Four players had at least two steals, led by Greenwell, who finished with three. Although Duke never really found its groove on offense, the Blue Devils used their defense and rebounding to continue to pull away in the second half. 

With the win, Duke secured its 21st consecutive 20-win season, the longest streak in the ACC and the second-longest in the NCAA. The Blue Devils will travel to Syracuse, N.Y., Thursday for their final road game of the year before closing out the season with a pair of home contests.