In what was another slow start for the Blue Devil offense, most would expect Duke to turn toward its pair of star juniors, Haley Gorecki and Leaonna Odom. 

But it was rather a duo off the bench that brought the Blue Devils out of their most miserable offensive start of the season, as Duke defeated Florida Gulf Coast 57-41 Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils' usual stout defense bounced back from a poor perimeter showing against Oregon State two weeks ago to hold the Eagles, second in the nation in 3-pointers made, to just 7-of-37 shooting from deep. 

Duke was led by center Jade Williams, who scored a season-high 17 points and added 11 rebounds off the bench. Duke received another spark from a reserve with Mikayla Boykin's 10 points and team-high seven assists. 

"I think I came into the game wanting to get rebounds and the points just followed through," Williams said. "I thought I was more aggressive on offense this game, but my rebounding helped out a lot." 

The first five minutes went nothing according to plan for both sides, as Florida Gulf Coast (9-4), a usual sharpshooting juggernaut, went 0-of-5 from deep and the Blue Devils could not finish inside despite a major size advantage against an Eagles team without a player above six feet tall. 

Unfortunately for Duke head coach Joanne P McCallie’s squad, Florida Gulf Coast found its groove from beyond the arc, hitting three of its final four shots from distance to end the first quarter with a 13-6 advantage. It completed Duke’s worst shooting quarter of the season at just over 13 percent. 

"I think consistency is something that we are pushing to get," McCallie stressed. "Pushing to get maximum from everybody, which of course we did not get today. You want to play all four quarters." 

It wasn’t until Boykin took over as the lead guard that the Blue Devils (8-4) started to get going offensively, opening the second frame with an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the game. The redshirt freshman finished the half leading the team in both points and assists, as Duke took a 31-26 lead into the locker room in the first-ever meeting between the two programs. 

"I wasn't really looking for offense," Boykin said. "I was making sure I came in with a lot of energy on defense." 

The Eagles came into the game with confidence, something that helped them in last year’s NCAA tournament, when they upset fifth seeded Missouri in the first round. Florida Gulf Coast has won its conference four out of the last five seasons and gave a good final non-conference test to the Blue Devils. 

Duke made it a point of emphasis to utilize its size inside, with freshman forward Onome Akinbode-James securing six rebounds in the first half. Then in the second, McCallie gave Williams extended minutes and the sophomore took advantage. 

"Duke has some really good athletes and length," Florida Gulf Coast head coach Karl Smesko said. "I thought they made us a little tentative." 

The play of Williams, Boykin and freshman Miela Goodchild, who chipped in 15 points, fueled the Blue Devils to a 14-4 run, and they never looked back. But it was the defense that gave this young team an edge before the offense got going. 

Duke will now march into ACC play, beginning with a trip down I-40 to take on No. 9 N.C. State in Raleigh Thursday with a chance to start 2019 with a signature win. 

"That's what we need. There's no better way to get a focus than to play teams that have been so successful," McCallie said. "It's a great opportunity and something we look forward to, but you've got to really work hard and be focused in practice to get it done."