DURHAM, N.C. Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie challenged her players to focus on details coming out of Christmas break.
They heeded her advice, playing hard every possession.
Joy Cheek scored 16 points to help No. 8 Duke defeat North Carolina Central 117-28 on Monday night in the biggest rout in school history.
Karima Christmas added 15 points for the Blue Devils (10-2), whose 89-point margin of victory was the sixth biggest in women’s Division I basketball over the past 10 years according to STATS.
A school-record nine players scored in double figures for Duke, which posted season-high figures for points, field-goal shooting (58.8 percent), assists (35) and 3-pointers (10).
“I have really never seen a stat sheet like this in my 18 years – or 17 1/2 years – of head coaching, in terms of nine people in double figures,” McCallie said. “That’s kind of unusual, and I think it’s a credit to the team to share the ball like everybody did.”
Alexis Rogers had 13 points for Duke, which scored the first 22 points of the game and closed the first half with another 22-0 run. Jasmine Thomas, Krystal Thomas and Kathleen Scheer added 12 points to help the Blue Devils beat their city rival.
The Blue Devils led 65-9 at halftime, setting a school record for biggest halftime lead and tying the school record for points in a first half.
“We hadn’t played a game in a few days or a week or so, and we just wanted to come out sharp,” Cheek said.
Danielle DeBerry and J’Mia Pollock scored six points apiece to lead the Eagles (1-10), who had more turnovers (45) than field-goal attempts (41).
N.C. Central sputtered without guard Joanna Miller, who served a one-game suspension for violating team rules. Miller had been averaging a team-best 17.7 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Eagles, who are in their third year of reclassification to NCAA Division I.
“I think the kids came out and were a little rattled at the beginning of the game,” N.C. Central coach Joli Robinson said. “But they kind of settled down and did some things we were looking for them to do. It lets us know that we’ve got a long ways to go.”
Duke smothered the Eagles from the start, forcing turnovers on N.C. Central’s first three possessions. The Blue Devils finished with a school-record 31 steals, converting many of those opportunities into easy baskets.
Duke outscored N.C. Central 66-4 in the lane and owned a 60-1 advantage in points off turnovers.
“Everyone was very efficient with the time on the floor and attacking,” McCallie said. “That’s really important to us to build our depth and to get better, and I definitely thought we got better tonight.”