DURHAM, N.C. – It felt like old times again at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke had Lindsey Harding in the house, an Allison dominating the paint and a highly ranked team in deep trouble.
Jasmine Thomas scored 24 of her career-high 29 points during the second half and the 11th-ranked Blue Devils routed No. 3 Ohio State 83-67 on Thursday night in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Duke (6-1) outscored the Buckeyes 24-8 during a 6-minute stretch of the second half, then led by 19 while pulling away late and turning its 18th straight home victory into an unexpected blowout.
“Everything about the second half was much more aggressive,” coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Jantel Lavender had 20 points and 18 rebounds for Ohio State (8-1), which beat its first eight opponents by an average of 27 points but was held to fewer than 83 points for the first time this season.
These kinds of punishing performances became commonplace at Cameron three years ago when Harding ran the show and led Duke to a 30-0 start and a No. 1 ranking.
This time, Harding watched from the stands while her protégé, Thomas, put on a show and Allison Vernerey — a 6-foot-5 freshman who wears the same No. 43 jersey that star center Alison Bales wore during Harding’s era — teamed with 6-4 Krystal Thomas inside. Vernerey finished with a season-high 13 points in her first home game of national significance.
“That’s the kind of game I came for,” Vernerey said. “You don’t come for easy games.”
There isn’t much about the remaining schedule that’s easy for Duke, the only team to face the top three schools in The Associated Press Top 25. But the Blue Devils can’t help but like their chances against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Stanford if their junior point guard keeps playing like this.
“I just decided to attack the basket more,” Jasmine Thomas said. “I really didn’t get anything inside in the first half, so that was just a change in my mentality.”
Thomas, who had a triple-double last time out against Marquette, started the decisive burst with a 3-pointer, scored 10 points during the run and went coast-to-coast for the layup that gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead, 59-49, with 11 minutes left.
“We should have made her take some tougher shots,” Buckeyes coach Jim Foster said.
After Bridgette Mitchell‘s jumper capped the burst and made it 61-49 with 10½ minutes left, Ohio State didn’t get closer than five the rest of the way.
Tayler Hill scored 13 points, Brittany Johnson and Sarah Schulze had 11 apiece and Samantha Prahalis finished with 10 points for the Buckeyes. But the Buckeyes led twice for a total of about 3½ minutes, turned it over 21 times, were outscored 46-10 in the paint and got just two points from their bench.
“I just think they came at us, with just an attitude, like, ‘We were going to win this game,’” Prahalis said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t come back at them.”