Blue Devil head coach Joanne P. McCallie reached a career milestone Friday, though it took a little while for her team to put a smile on her face.

No. 14 Duke pulled away to beat Liberty 68-51 at Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday night for the 600th victory of McCallie's career. Graduate student Lexie Brown poured in 26 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting, but could not provide the Blue Devils' offense with a sense of fluidity early before the hosts built a comfortable cushion in the second half. 

"It means that I’m kind of old now at 52, hanging in there, and I’ve been coaching since I was 26, and I just feel very fortunate to be with the players that I’m with on this team and the players before," McCallie said of the milestone. "I love the idea of having longevity, and I think my favorite stat is I’ve never missed a game in 26 years."

Duke (11-2) has not scored more than 70 points since it faced Winthrop Dec. 10 and remained in its offensive funk for much of Friday's game, with 12 turnovers in a sloppy first half of play. After Brown went to the bench with her second foul in the middle of the second quarter, the Blue Devils gave the ball away on six straight possessions, helping the Flames (5-7) pull within five points when a 3-point play made it 28-23. But Brown returned to the floor and Duke closed the half on an 8-0 run, sparked by an assist from the graduate student point guard to Erin Mathias for a transition layup. 

"A lot’s missing when Lexie’s not on the floor, defensively as well as offensively. I have a lot of confidence in the team, but I feel like we’ve got this ridiculous turnover situation that didn’t help us play," McCallie said. "I also wanted to give Lexie a chance to play in foul trouble and to stay in the game and to make decisions with more fouls."

Redshirt sophomore Haley Gorecki scored the last four points of the run with a 3-pointer and a free throw and finished the night with 17 points, her fourth straight contest with at least 13.

The Blue Devils stifled Liberty defensively all night, holding its fifth straight opponent to fewer than 55 points. With an aggressive full-court press that dropped back into its matchup zone, Duke forced 19 turnovers and held Liberty to just 27.9 percent shooting.

The Flames traded baskets with the Blue Devils for most of the third quarter, but Duke closed the quarter strong once again to pull away. Mathias scored six straight points by herself to stake the Blue Devils to a 19-point advantage, and triples from Brown and Gorecki put Duke in front by 25.

The Blue Devils slowed down again in the fourth quarter as the turnover bug resurfaced—they finished the game with 24—and allowed Liberty to pull within 15 points, but the game did not get any closer. Brown finished with seven giveaways, matching her most in a Duke uniform, and had just one assist.

"Their ball pressure was pretty good. They forced us into bad decisions and sometimes sending two people at either [me or Haley] at one time, so we just had to be more patient," Brown said. "I don’t think it has anything to do with Becca [Greenwell] not being on the court. That was just us making dumb plays."

Mathias reached double figures with 11 points for the first time since she exploded for a career-high 24 against UNC Greensboro Dec. 7, but the Duke's other forward remained quiet. Sophomore Leaonna Odom attacked the basket for three buckets in the paint, but finished in single digits in scoring for the seventh straight contest after notching at least 13 points in five of the Blue Devils' first six games. Odom attempted a free throw for the first time in nine games, missing it, but did not make a significant contribution to Duke's season-high 28 free throw attempts.

"Having Erin take eight, we need Haley to take about eight, you’ve got Lexie at 10, and boy, if we can get [Leaonna] involved in that as well, it would be perfect," McCallie said. "[Leaonna] is super quick, you see with the six blocks. Those are all quickness blocks, quickness to the ball, so we’ve got to get that going."

Graduate student Rebecca Greenwell is expected to return to play for Duke's ACC opener Sunday afternoon at Miami and could give the Blue Devils' offense an extra jolt. The game will be Duke's first away from Cameron since Dec. 3 and will kick off a grueling week that features a trip to unbeaten No. 3 Louisville Thursday.