For only the second time this season, redshirt senior Lexie Brown was shut out in the first half—first against No. 3 Louisville, and Sunday against unranked Virginia.
One of only two players in the ACC averaging 20 points per game, Brown was left with nothing going into the locker room, where Duke only led by one point, 24-23, after its lowest-scoring first half of the season. But it is not typical of her to go so quiet, and Brown—who had scored 61 total points in the past two games alone—came back in the second half with relentless energy and leadership. Brown finished as Duke’s leading scorer with 14 points.
“Nothing really changed. The ball just wasn’t going in the basket,” Brown said. “I was getting open looks and my teammates were setting me up great. I missed a wide open layup. It was just one of those halves.”
In the first quarter, the Blue Devils started off slow and found themselves in a 13-2 hole early on. Duke ended up scoring only 11 points in the first period, and Brown was left with no points and only one rebound. The other half of the Blue Devils' Splash Sister duo, graduate student Rebecca Greenwell, only had three points and a single rebound in the first quarter as well.
The second quarter proved to be a turnaround for Duke, which held Virginia to only five points while scoring 13 of its own to take a slim lead. Brown, however, was still left shut out. Although Virginia’s defense was pressing and had 6-foot-9 center Felicia Aiyeotan protecting the rim, Brown had several open opportunities, but could not convert on any of her attempts. Brown finished the first half 0-7 from the field.
After halftime, something clicked for Brown, and everything started going her way again. Virginia started sending her to the free throw line, where she finally got her first opportunity of the night to score with 7:47 left in the third quarter. Brown scored nearly half her points from the free-throw line, going 2-of-4 in the third quarter and a perfect 4-of-4 in the fourth.
The captain and preseason All-American shined brighter when it mattered most in the final minute, with the Blue Devils clinging to a one-point lead. She drew a critical foul with the shot clock running low and knocked down both free throws, and she swiped the ball from Aliyah Huland El with 32 seconds left in the game before holding onto it and knocking down two more free throws. Brown finished the afternoon with six steals, and the Cavaliers did not pull within one possession again.
“The coaches and my teammates kept me super confident going into the second half,” Brown said. “We just made plays as a team.”
Brown shot 3-of-6 from the field and 2-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half. With 14 points in the second half alone, Brown once again led the Blue Devils in scoring for the third straight game and the 12th time this season.
“Lexie’s just so active, and I think that she knows we’ve got to get her the ball," McCallie said. "I always tell her she’s a triple-double waiting to happen, whether it’s rebounds, points, steals or assists. She can be very, very productive. And she was today. If you look at her stat line, zero turnovers in 39 minutes—with the amount of pressure that she draws, often having to beat two people, that shows a lot about her ability.”
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