After falling to Northwestern in the season opener and squeaking past Maine Thursday night, Duke responded with a more comfortable win in its first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Blue Devils used a balanced offensive effort and an up-tempo pace to overcome a slow shooting start and sink Elon 81-64 for their 20th straight win in a home opener. Junior Leaonna Odom led four Duke players in double figures with a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

"It was great to see Leaonna just go hard and just attack from all sides. it is important that we get everyone going on all cylinders," head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "We were cohesive at times, not as much as we want, but certainly much better. There is just a lot to build on from here."

After falling behind 7-2 following six straight missed shots from the field and seven Lexi Mercer points, Duke worked back to grab its first lead at 11-10 following an Odom free throw. With the Blue Devils and Phoenix trading baskets and shots from the charity stripe, Duke (2-1) started to push the pace offensively.

The Blue Devils scored on five straight possessions to close the quarter, using an average of just 8.4 seconds on the shot clock, to extend their lead to 24-20 entering the second quarter. Haley Gorecki and Faith Suggs contributed four points apiece during the run.

"Defense is something that always fuels our offense. We just want to get some steals and deflections, and try to get our energy going," Suggs said. "We were fouling a lot and they were going to the free-throw line. The game was getting stagnant, so we just wanted to get some more defensive energy to fuel our offense."

To open the second quarter, Duke continued to run while playing a stingy zone-press defense, using a total of 22 seconds in its three successful possessions to extend the lead to 29-20 with 8:06 remaining in the half. Freshman Miela Goodchild chipped in four of her six first-half points during the run to help crack open the game for the Blue Devils. 

Elon (1-2) and Duke struggled to separate any further throughout the period, and the Blue Devils entered the break up 48-39, shooting 55.9 percent from the field while outrebounding the Phoenix by three after a strong performance on the offensive boards from Odom and Madison Treece. Odom entered the half with 11 points and Gorecki had 10 points and four steals before the break to pace Duke, though Gorecki cooled off in the second half and finished with 12 points. 

"We had fun moving the ball, and moved the ball very well this game. We just wanted to make the extra pass. And when we move the ball and make the extra pass, it’s really hard to stop us," Odom said. "Coach P tells and wants me to broaden my game, and I know that if I’m going to play professionally, I’m going to need to learn how to run the point guard position. Just practicing and getting more reps makes me more comfortable."

Although the junior duo has been carrying the scoring burden thus far—they are the only two Blue Devils to average double-digit scoring—the supporting cast stepped up at home and made important contributions. Freshman Rayah Craig was a perfect 3-for-3 in the first half and had eight points while Goodchild reached double digits, totaling 10 points. Suggs registered an impressive performance on both sides of the floor, finishing with 12 points and three steals.

Duke extended its lead in the second half, outscoring the Phoenix 20-14 in the third quarter to enter the final frame up 68-53. Although they struggled from deep in the second half, shooting 1-for-7 and making just six total shots in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils maintained their poise and used strong defensive play to close out the game.

"I am really proud of the team's growth. I thought we grew throughout the game, particularly in the second half," McCallie said. "In the second half, the whole defense changed in terms of intensity, reading passing angles and making it much more difficult for them to run their sets. We did not really play defense in the first half, we were just trading baskets and not really dictating. To be a special team, you better learn how to dictate on the floor and make things happen they way we want them to happen."

Mercer led the Phoenix with 19 points, and Duke limited Elon's leading scorer Emily Maupin to 16 points. Using intense pressure at times, Duke forced 19 turnovers and outrebounded Elon by 11—an important point of focus for the team after poor rebounding performances to open the season. 

"We keep doing rebounding drills. They have got to get tired of rebounding drills in practice because we can rebound. Leaonna, Jade and Haley, those three right there, can get double figure rebounds in every single game," McCallie said. "We can rebound. We have to do it. You got to do it."

The Blue Devils will return to the floor for three games next weekend at the Gulf Coast Classic in Estero, Fla., beginning with a matchup against Washington Friday afternoon.

"We have a great opportunity now with the tournament coming up and three games in a row," McCallie said. "I know players do not like to practice. I know players like to play. It will be three games in a row and a great opportunity to take another step."