by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke returns to action for the first time after an eight-day holiday break, and in their final game before a long string of ACC contests the No. 4 Blue Devils welcome a first-time opponent.
Duke will be a massive favorite. For the first time this season everybody who will play this season — except for Amber Henson, who has a longer-term injury — will see action.
Things end up pretty much according to form, as the Blue Devils win 73-32.
The Blue Devils never trail, leading 6-0 and then 16-1 on a pair of Tricia Liston free throws with 10:26 left in the period.
Duke leads 29-3 at halftime, shooting 32.3 percent to the Hawks’ 4.0. That’s right, 1-for-25, with the three points tying the NCAA women’s basketball record for fewest points in a half. Duke also scores its season low for a period.
Monmouth gets its offense started in the second half, scoring 10 points in the first 5:25. Duke’s biggest lead is 46 on two occasions, the first time at 69-23 on an Alexis Jones layup with 3:28 to go.
Liston finishes with 15 points and nine rebounds, followed by Chelsea Gray with 13 points. Haley Peters chips in 11 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season and third of her career. Richa Jackson, who had played just one minute all season because of a torn ACL in February, plays 14 against Monmouth and finishes with six points, four rebounds and two steals.
Chevannah Paalvast leads the Hawks with 15 points.
Duke shoots 42.9 percent to the visitors’ 23.1, wins the rebound battle 55-28 and commits a season-high 24 turnovers to Monmouth’s 29.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It’s great to be back. We’ve had just two practices and then this game and I think certain things showed up in that area, but I really like our team’s tenacity defensively. … We’re getting better. We’re growing. We’re maturing a lot. We’re looking at a lot of film — much to (the players’) chagrin — but I think we’re in a neat place.”
Palmateer: “It was a great opportunity for us to come to a place like Duke. It really helps us prepare for our conference. We’ve been really challenging ourselves as much as we can, playing as many as the top teams as we can to prepare for conference play. … I was really, really pleased with our defensive effort in the first half. I think they wore us down a little bit in the second.”
Liston: “We were coming off a couple of games where we didn’t play as well defensively as we had hoped. We get a goal at the beginning of the game, and we were really focused on getting it. I think everybody was trying to put their energy into that.”
Jackson: “I was very excited to play. I’ve been out for a while, and I know my coach has confidence to put me in. I just wanted to come out and play with energy.”
What does it all mean?
That despite some offensive sluggishness against the Hawks, Duke should be ready for ACC play.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Alexis Jones’ steal and layup for an 11-1 lead with 11:35 left in the half.
Duke: Won 11.
Monmouth: Lost 1.
Duke leads 1-0.
Duke at N.C. State, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Monmouth at Mount St. Mary’s, Saturday, 3 p.m.