Duke started off the its season in a big way Thursday night—100 points big.
The No. 7 Blue Devils beat Limestone 100-33 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in their first of two exhibition games. Duke was led by redshirt freshman Rebecca Greenwell, who had 24 points—18 of which came via the long ball. Senior Elizabeth Williams and sophomore Oderah Chidom also had standout games, with 18 and 19 points.
“The team had set a goal, and they reached that goal. That’s important,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We just got better tonight, and the team played very urgent.”
The Blue Devils dominated from the start of the game, taking a 16-5 lead in the first five minutes through superior perimeter play. Greenwell had 10 points on the half, six of which came from long range. As the half continued, Duke became more dominant in the post, as it had a significant height advantage over the Saints—whose tallest player was 6-foot-1. Unsurprisingly, Williams and Chidom—who stand at 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4—readily commanded the post with a combined 23 points on the half. By the end of the first 20 minutes, the Blue Devils had stretched their lead to 49-20.
Duke came out playing even more aggressively in the second half, especially with regards to defensive play. The Blue Devils excelled in the post—Williams had six defensive rebounds and two blocked shots in the second half alone—and intensified their defense on the perimeter. They managed to hold Limestone to just 13 points in the entirety of the second half.
Offensively, Duke consistently controlled the floor throughout the half, going 18-of-33 overall and 5-of-11 from behind the arc. Greenwell was responsible for four of the five 3-pointers. True freshman Azura Stevens lacked no confidence going into the second half, attacking from inside and outside of the post for a solid eight points on the half. The game closed with the Blue Devils ahead by a massive 67 points.
“Oderah [Chidom] was fantastic. She was very active and very productive,” McCallie said. “You have to watch out for [Greenwell]. She’s always just lurking somewhere. She’s too good of a shooter to ever be off-balance or rushed.”
Notably, Duke’s starting lineup featured true freshman Sierra Calhoun, senior Amber Henson, senior Ka’lia Johnson, Greenwell and Williams. For a team that lost four of last season’s starters, it is surprising that this starting lineup includes three seniors. The majority of the players coming off the bench, however, were underclassmen, so there was a fair balance between experience and youth.
There is still a bit of ambiguity with regards to who will play point guard. Thursday, time at the point was split between Johnson and Greenwell. Although Greenwell has not traditionally played the point, she has improved in controlling the floor, as evidenced by her six assists. Her ball control and floor vision has also proven to be at the level of an elite point guard.
Johnson, however, has also proven her strength and versatility as the Blue Devil floor general. She had seven assists on the night. The significant difference between the two is clearly their scoring potentials—Johnson had five points to Greenwell’s 24. That being said, it is worth noting that Greenwell generated significantly more points when she was playing the wing.
“I’m definitely getting more comfortable playing the point,” Greenwell said. “It’s different. I like running the wing… but I’m comfortable running either one. Coach P says we have six point guards, and I think we’re all comfortable running it and do a good job at it.”
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