DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Although No. 14 Duke never trailed, its victory against No. 8 Ohio State was anything but easy.
Lexie Brown and Rebecca Greenwell scored 19 points each to help the Blue Devils beat the Buckeyes 69-60 on Thursday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Erin Mathias had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Duke (6-1), which won after giving up a 17-point lead in the second half.
“We got better tonight,” Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “That was definitely a very physical game, and it was hard work. It’s a great experience for us to go through that together and learn from it.”
Duke led 52-35 before Ohio State answered with a 22-5 run to tie the game early in the fourth quarter.
But Greenwell hit a driving layup to spark a 9-0 spurt by the Blue Devils, and the Buckeyes scored just three points in the final nine minutes.
Haley Gorecki scored 11 points for Duke, which won its eighth straight at home against ranked opponents.
“We were expecting a run,” Brown said. “We just had to stay calm, cool and collected and make a run of our own.”
Kelsey Mitchell scored 24 points on 9-for-27 shooting to lead Ohio State (7-2). Linnae Harper added 12 points for the Buckeyes, who shot 32 percent from the floor.
Ohio State entered the game averaging 94 points per game after scoring at least 85 points in each of its first eight games.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes showed their explosiveness in the second half. Their shot selection and defensive intensity after halftime were improved, and they will need to continue to make progress in those areas to make a deep run in March. “If we want to be a big-time team and get to the Final Four this year, we’ve got to play defense,” Mitchell said. “And we didn’t do that. That’s going to continue to be our downfall if we don’t get it together.”
Duke: The Blue Devils showed how much potential they have, dominating a large portion of a matchup that would be fitting of a regional final. Aside from the drought in the third quarter, Duke played with poise on offense. The Blue Devils penetrated the paint with drives and interior passes while remaining opportunistic from 3-point range.
Brown scored 15 points in the first half, and Greenwell had 15 in the second half to fuel Duke’s offense. The senior duo, dubbed the “splash sisters” because of their shooting touch, combined to make 6 of 11 3-point attempts. “Lexie and Becca kept us grounded the whole game, which is really key,” Mathias said. “We all just kind of fed off each other.”
Mitchell, the nation’s leading scorer, went scoreless for the first nine minutes of the game. She had 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting at the half and finished the game 4 of 17 from 3-point range.
Buckeyes guard Sierra Calhoun scored eight points, all in the second half, in her return to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Calhoun played 13 games for the Blue Devils during the 2014-15 season before transferring to Ohio State.
“I thought she handled herself well,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “She did a good job. It’s hard to do that, to come back to a place that she transferred from. But she did a good job with it.”
Ohio State’s six-game winning streak ended. … The Buckeyes fell to 0-2 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. They have outscored their other foes by an average of 27.1 points per game. … Duke outscored Ohio State 36-18 in the paint. … The Blue Devils had 21 turnovers after totaling 30 in their previous three games combined.
Ohio State: Hosts Maine on Sunday before playing three of its next four games on the road.
Duke: Plays at No. 5 South Carolina on Sunday.