WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Graduate student Rebecca Greenwell had been only two triples away from setting Duke’s all-time career record for made 3-pointers for eight games and was hurt for five of them.
The breakthrough finally came Thursday night.
After tying the record with a buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter, she hit another early in the second period to make Duke history, passing Tricia Liston with her 253rd career triple. Her hot start led the No. 17 Blue Devils to a 80-67 win against Wake Forest at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum for their first ACC road win of the season. The record seemed to ignite a fire inside of Greenwell, who finished with 23 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
“I just felt relieved to finally get that record,” Greenwell said. “It’s a great honor. It’s been in the back of my head too much, but now that it’s out of the way I can play loose and play like my old self, just keep this win streak going throughout the rest of the ACC season.”
Greenwell has not looked herself lately due to her recent knee injury and was held stagnant for the last two games. But the graduate student looked determined to get back into her usual form Thursday, attacking the basket and not hesitating to take open shots.
“I felt like my old self again,” Greenwell said. “My knee feels a lot better each day. I just tried to not think and just play loose and not think about the things I can’t control, and when I do that I can play like myself.”
Fellow graduate student Lexie Brown also came ready to play. Following a career-high 34-point performance against N.C. State Sunday, Brown began the game against the Demon Deacons somewhat slower than usual, with only five points going into the second quarter.
But after hitting a wide-open 3-pointer set up by Greenwell, Brown went on a tear on both sides of the floor, scoring 13 points and playing lockdown defense on Wake Forest’s senior point guard Amber Campbell, who was held scoreless throughout the first half.
“I just started getting some open looks. My teammates made great screens, and Haley made great passes,” Brown said. “It’s nice to be known as a defensive leader. It’s something I’ve worked on...if we get all five of us to be on the same page defensively, we’re going to be scary.”
Brown led the Blue Devils (13-4, 2-2 in the ACC) in scoring with 27 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Wake Forest’s leading scorer, junior Elisa Penna, finished with 24 points to keep her team in the game, but the Blue Devil defense proved too much for the Demon Deacons (10-7, 2-2). After hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers as a team to begin the game, Duke improved its closeouts—Wake Forest shot just 25.0 percent from beyond the arc on the night.
“We just got focused and did a good job on defense,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I liked how we played and that we made some very important stops.”
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The Blue Devils’ suffocating defense also forced 13 Demon Deacon turnovers, and the visitors capitalized, scoring 20 points off those mistakes. Although Duke’s defense has continued to improve against ACC opponents, it still has problems taking care of the ball. The Blue Devils committed 15 turnovers of their own.
Freshman Jade Williams and senior Erin Mathias also found themselves in foul trouble early, which allowed Wake Forest to take control of the boards. The Demon Deacons outrebounded Duke 37-33, with almost half of their rebounds coming on the offensive end. Sophomore Alex Sharp had a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards, and second-chance points kept Wake Forest alive throughout the game.
“We’ve got a take a look at [our rebounding] and really get motivated,” McCallie said. “All of these teams are physical and can really play, so we’ve got to work on it.”
The Blue Devils looked deep throughout the night, winding up with 26 bench points. Duke’s impressive ball movement provided reserves Williams and freshman Jayda Adams open shots set up by redshirt sophomore Haley Gorecki, who led the team with seven assists.
“We did a better job of moving the ball and finding each other,” McCallie said. “We love when the bench scores. It’s a really good game to build off of before Sunday’s game.”
Duke will come back home to Cameron Indoor Stadium to face Virginia Sunday hoping to move to better than .500 in conference play.