CLEMSON, S.C.—Duke had struggled out of the gates away from Cameron Indoor Stadium this season.

The Blue Devils had trailed at the end of the first quarter in their past four road games—all losses—taking time to adjust to the unfamiliar environment that proved all too costly.

But Duke had no such problems Thursday at Jervey Gym.

Behind a pair of dominant runs to start both halves, the Blue Devils eased away from Clemson 72-43, vanquishing the road demons that had plagued Duke for much of the season. In the first six minutes of the game, the Blue Devils made seven of their nine shots—including three 3-pointers—to score 17 quick points. In the first five minutes of the third quarter, the story was much the same—four of Duke's first six looks dropped through the net, all of them coming from inside the paint, for an efficient eight points to thwart any attempt at a Tiger comeback.

“It’s very important to start the game well, to see if you can get right after it,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “And also to start the half well. I thought we were dominant, and I thought they had a hard time scoring.”

Both teams got off to a fast start offensively, with Duke leading 7-6 just 2:36 into the contest. But from there, the Blue Devils began scoring at will, and Clemson had no response on the other end.

Duke rattled off eight unanswered points to seize control, building a 17-8 lead at the media timeout. Graduate student Amber Henson opened the spurt with a jumper, followed by back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman Kyra Lambert and redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell.

When the first-quarter buzzer sounded, the Blue Devils had scored 22 points—a season-high for points scored in a period on the road.

Ball movement proved key to the first-quarter explosion, with six different Duke players chipping in. Sophomore Azurá Stevens led the way with 10 points, a sign of things to come for the forward, who finished with a career-high 33 points.

For the game, the Blue Devils handed out 18 assists—with four apiece for Lambert and Stevens—on 25 made field goals, also a season-high for road contests. Eight of the 10 players to take the floor had at least one helper.

“I thought Kyra did a good job finding [Stevens],” McCallie said. “I like our team getting better and playing well together. I like 18 assists. We were very poised.”

The Tigers outscored Duke 14-13 in the second frame, but faced an uphill battle at halftime, trailing by 11. By the time the second half rolled around, the Blue Devils rediscovered their first-quarter success, and used another surge to take a 45-28 lead with 4:59 left to play in the third quarter.

Ten of the quarter's first 14 points belonged to Duke, with Chidom and Stevens leading the way with four points and redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell adding two more. The Blue Devils attacked the rim relentlessly—eight of the 10 points came on lay-ups, with the other two on a pair of Stevens free-throws.

By whipping the ball around the court, Duke exposed holes in the Tiger defense and pounded the ball inside, combining for eight assists in the 11 minutes during which the two big runs took place.

On defense, Duke used its size to disrupt any and every shot that Clemson put up. During the 11-minute span of the runs, the Blue Devils had three blocks and three steals, forced six turnovers and altered most of the Clemson shot attempts.

The Blue Devils finished the game with seven blocks, 11 steals—four by Greenwell—and forced 24 turnovers to keep their lead alive, and outrebounded the Tigers 40-30.

“I thought the team as a whole did a great job with defensive intensity across the board,” McCallie said. “I thought we were immediate and aggressive, and that’s what you want.”

Heading into Thursday's game, McCallie again stressed the importance of putting together a 40-minute game. And although the Blue Devils held a sizable lead, they did not take their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter. Despite struggling through a tough stretch of six straight misses, Duke outscored Clemson 21-8 in the final frame, at one point forcing the Tigers into an 0-for-8 drought.

“I think [the runs] were really important,” Stevens said. “We just got the edge and we were ahead and that helped us propel forward.”

Back on track with two straight wins, Duke will take on North Carolina Sunday in a battle for Tobacco Road, looking to put together more game-defining runs. A year ago, the Blue Devils used a 34-8 stretch to crawl out of a big hole and beat the Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

“We’re excited to get home, and beat the snow, and get to Cameron on Sunday,” McCallie said. “It doesn’t matter if it snows, it’ll be nice and warm inside [Cameron].”