CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – This time, it was the Duke women’s turn to show Clemson how the Blue Devils play defense.
No. 9 Duke used a first-half run and relentless defense to open Atlantic Coast Conference play with its 13th straight victory over the Tigers, 67-41 on Thursday night.
The win, Blue Devils’ sixth straight this season, came after the school’s Top 10 men locked down Clemson at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday night in a 74-53 victory.
“We take after the men, they take after us,” Duke forward Joy Cheek said. “We all represent Duke, so we all want to go hard and get those wins.”
Cheek was a big reason why the Blue Devils (13-2) got this victory. She and Jasmine Thomas had 15 points each. The two helped Duke to a 21-6 first-half run to take control, while the Blue Devils defense did the rest.
“I think tonight, we really let our defense trigger everything,” Thomas said.
Clemson’s point total was the lowest in its history against Duke. The Tigers missed 13 shots in a row during one stretch and finished shooting 25 percent (13 of 52) from the field.
The Blue Devils got 15 steals and forced the Tigers into 23 turnovers.
The effort looked like a replay of Duke-Clemson men’s game from a few nights earlier. In that one, the Blue Devils gave the Cameron crazies plenty to cheer about as they moved in front 30-12 and held the Tigers to a 5-of-30 shooting in the first half.
“I guess were both 1-0 against Clemson in ACC play,” Thomas said, laughing.
The Blue Devils have not lost a league opener since Dec. 9, 2000 – also the last time they lost to the Tigers (9-8).
Shaniqua Pauldo scored 12 points to lead Clemson, which has lost its last 38 games against ranked opponents.
Bridgette Mitchell added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils.
Duke came in with its top 10 ranking, a solid winning streak this season and a run of success against Clemson that has lasted nearly a decade.
But the Blue Devils couldn’t find their rhythm early on, going 3 of 9 from the field and leading 6-5 seven minutes in.
“It’s okay to have a slow start if you’re defending,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Then Duke showed off the talent that’s made it one of the ACC’s top women’s programs in the country.
Thomas got the run started with a driving basket and a foul shot, and Cheek followed with two straight jumpers.
Cheek added a 3-pointer that increased the lead to 22-9, then Thomas followed with a long-range basket of her own. By the time Karima Christmas made two foul shots, Duke lead 27-11 to all but wrap the game up.
Clemson hasn’t beaten a Top 25 program in more than six years, and the Tigers lose their latest chance with some awful first-half shooting.
The Tigers have shot less than 40 percent in three of its past four games.
“Now, it’s more in their heads,” Clemson coach Cristy McKinney said. “It is confidence in my mind and they just need the reps and seeing it go in the hole.”
That might be difficult since the Tigers face ranked opponents Georgia Tech, Florida State and North Carolina their next three games.
Clemson also couldn’t handle Duke’s size, getting outrebounded 48 to 31.
The Blue Devils opened the second half with a 17-9 run and the lead eventually stretched to reached 30 points, prompting McCallie to send her starters to the bench.
Duke’s intensity didn’t let up, though. When reserve guard Chelsea Hopkins took a charge on Clemson’s Keyrra Gillespie with less than six minutes left, McCallie led the cheers on the Blue Devils’ bench.
“Finally, we got a charge,” McCallie said.
Hardy, Clemson’s leading scorer, was held to eight points – six fewer than her average – on 3 of 15 shooting. Reserve Jasmine Tate finished with nine rebounds and five blocks for the Tigers