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Brown Leads No. 14/15 Duke Past Liberty, 68-51

December 29, 2017  Durham, N.C.  RSS
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Ashtyn Baker finished with 10 points and four assists at No. 14/15 Duke on Friday.

Ashtyn Baker finished with 10 points and four assists at No. 14/15 Duke on Friday.

No. 14/15 Duke redshirt senior All-American guard Lexie Brown's 26 points led her team past Liberty, 68-51, in both teams' final tune-up for conference play, Friday evening at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Lady Flames finish their non-conference schedule at 5-7 but can take a number of positives away from the game, one year removed from a 60-point (98-38) loss to the Blue Devils. The inside/outside duo of Keyen Green (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Big South Freshman of the Week Ashtyn Baker (10 points, 4 assists) played well and the Lady Flames came up with 16 steals, their most since Jan. 9, 2012 against Campbell (18 steals).

However, Liberty was undone by 27.9 percent (19-of-68) shooting, including 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from three-point range. A lot of that had to do with Duke's defensive pressure, as the Blue Devils tied a Liberty opponent record with 12 blocked shots on the night.

Conversely, Duke improved to 11-2 by hitting 52.3 percent (23-of-44) of its field goals and getting to the free throw line 19 more times (28-9) than Liberty. Haley Gorecki (17 points) and Erin Mathias (11 points) joined Brown in double figures, while Leaonna Odom rejected six Liberty shots.

Duke, which earned career win No. 600 for head coach Joanne P. McCallie, improved to 6-0 all-time against Liberty, 9-0 at home this season and 28-0 all-time against Big South opposition, including 4-0 in 2017-18.

The first quarter featured three ties and a lead change before Duke emerged with a 15-13 edge through 10 minutes. The Blue Devils got to the foul line 10 times in the first quarter, making seven of them. They also rejected five Liberty shots, but the Lady Flames hit three triples to keep things close early on.

Brown scored seven points within the first 3:20 of the second quarter, helping the Blue Devils take their first double-digit lead (26-16) of the night. The Lady Flames tallied seven of the next nine points, pulling to within 28-23 on Ola Makurat's three-point play at the 2:19 mark.

Duke then closed out the first half with an 8-0 run, punctuated by Gorecki's three points in the final 25 seconds, pushing its halftime advantage to 13 points (36-23).

Duke shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the field before halftime but committed 12 turnovers. Liberty made only 21.1 percent (8-of-38) of its first-half field goal attempts, having eight shots rejected.

Brown led all players in both points (14) and steals (3) in the first half, while her point guard counterpart, Baker, posted eight points and three assists.

Brown kept things going in the second half, scoring Duke's first five points of the third quarter. Later on in the stanza, she and Gorecki hit back-to-back triples to cap off a 12-0 Blue Devil run, posting the home team to a 58-33 lead, its largest of the game, at the 1:04 mark. Duke took a 23-point advantage (60-37) into the fourth quarter.

Liberty tallied the fourth period's first eight points, closing out an overall 10-0 surge. Kierra Johnson-Graham's pair of free throws trimmed the Lady Flames' deficit to 60-45 with 7:31 remaining in the contest.

In total, Liberty outscored Duke 14-8 over the final period but could get no closer than 15 points down as the Lady Flames suffered their fifth straight road loss and ninth consecutive setback to an ACC opponent.

Duke finished with slight advantages in rebounds (40-36) and points in the paint (22-20).

The Lady Flames entered the game shooting just 64.7 percent from the free throw line this season but went 9-for-9 in front of a partisan crowd of 3,531 spectators on Friday.

Liberty freshman Bridgette Rettstatt paced all players with a career-high eight rebounds, while teammates KK Barbour and Lela Sellers came up with four steals apiece.

Continuing to step up her production in the absence of injured teammate Rebecca Greenwell, Gorecki hit a game-high three triples for Duke.

Brown shot 8-of-10 from the foul line during her fifth straight 20-point game for the Blue Devils.

Up Next
Liberty will tip off Big South Conference play with a visit to Presbyterian (2-8) on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Templeton Center for the 20th all-time meeting between the Lady Flames and Blue Hose.