For the second straight year, a big game by Rebecca Greenwell (career-high 28 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) propelled Duke to a lopsided victory over Liberty. The Blue Devils prevailed 98-38 in both teams' season openers on Friday, marking the Lady Flames' largest margin of defeat in Vines Center history.
Greenwell, who scored 26 points in Duke's 79-41 home win over the Lady Flames on Dec. 17, 2015, helped the Blue Devils (1-0) improve to 5-0 all-time against Liberty and 23-0 all-time versus Big South opponents. Duke scored the most points ever by a visiting team at the Vines Center and became just the second opponent in the last 95 games to shoot 50 percent (52.2 percent, 36-of-69) from the field against the Lady Flames.
After taking an early 18-14 lead, Liberty (0-1) turned ice cold from the floor. The new-look Lady Flames finished the game at 20.8 percent (11-of-53) from the field and 5.9 percent (1-of-17) from three-point range.
The game was played before a crowd of 3,741, which marked the eighth-largest women's basketball crowd in Vines Center history and the largest since Dec. 14, 2002.
Both teams shot 50 percent from the field during a fast-paced first quarter which featured three ties and two lead changes. Molly Reagan came off the bench for six early points, helping Liberty build an 18-14 lead at the 2:24 mark.
However, Greenwell scored five points during a quarter-ending 10-0 run for the visiting Blue Devils. That gave Duke a 24-18 advantage after the first 10 minutes of play, and the blue-clad visitors never trailed again.
Greenwell scored the opening points of the second quarter on a layup, closing out a 12-0 overall surge by Duke. The Lady Flames pulled to within 28-23 on a Nene Johnson free throw with 6:17 to play in the opening half.
The Blue Devils then countered with another extended run, closing the first half with a 20-1 spurt to take a 48-24 halftime advantage. Duke built its lead by holding Liberty to 6.3 percent (1-of-16) shooting and scoring 20 points in the paint during the period.
Greenwell led the Blue Devils with 13 points and five rebounds in the first half. Reagan's eight first-half points paced Liberty's offensive attack.
Duke's lead got as large as 37 points during a third quarter which saw the Blue Devils block four Liberty shots. Duke took a 71-36 advantage into the final 10 minutes after another cold shooting stanza (23.1 percent, 3-of-13) for the Lady Flames.
Duke outscored Liberty by a 27-2 count in the fourth quarter, holding the Lady Flames to 0-of-10 from the field and to their lowest-scoring quarter in program history.
Reagan equaled her career high of nine points and tied for team-high scoring honors with Ola Makurat, one of three freshmen to start for the Lady Flames on Friday. Sheana Vega pulled down a team-high four rebounds, while Lela Sellers dished out four assists.
Duke's contributors were many, as Kyra Lambert (13 points), Lynee Belton (12 points) and Kendall Cooper (10 points) each joined Greenwell in double digits. Erin Mathias grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, and Oderah Chidom blocked six Liberty shots.
The Blue Devils owned sizeable advantages in rebounds (49-32), points in the paint (60-16), points off turnovers (40-10) and fast break points (16-0).
Up Next Liberty will continue its season-opening three-game homestand Tuesday at 5 p.m., when the Lady Flames welcome defending CAA champion James Madison to the Vines Center. The game will tip off a basketball doubleheader, which will culminate at 8 p.m. with a clash between the Liberty men's basketball squad and VCU.