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Duke routs Houston Baptist in opener

Nov 14, 2009 - 4:51 AM By CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON(AP) -- Duke's less-than-perfect opening performance was more than enough against overmatched Houston Baptist.

Bridgette Mitchell scored 18 points, Krystal Thomas added 14 points and 12 rebounds and No. 6 Duke cruised to a 104-35 win over the Huskies on Friday night.

Joy Cheek had 16 points for the Blue Devils, who held the overmatched Huskies to 20 percent shooting (10 for 49), forced 33 turnovers and enjoyed a 62-25 rebounding edge.

Duke got off to a sloppy start, giving away three turnovers in the first four minutes. The Blue Devils also missed eight of their first 11 shots and trailed 8-6.

Cheek broke open inside for a layup with 14:21 left in the first half to begin a 10-0 Duke run, and the Blue Devils rolled from there.

"We had a lot of great energy early on," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "The key is to channel that energy in the right directions. But definitely, throughout the game, we got better and better as time went on."

The Blue Devils smothered the Huskies with full-court pressure from the start and did not allow a field goal for a 6-minute span to take command.

"We got the early lead and I couldn't have been more pleased," Houston Baptist coach Todd Buchanan. "But it only takes about four, five, six possessions, and things can get out of hand in a hurry."

The Blue Devils will face tougher challenges soon enough - they play third-ranked Ohio State on Dec. 3 and No. 2 Stanford on Dec. 15. They're staying in the area this weekend to face Texas A&M on Sunday.

Duke finished with 23 turnovers in the opener and went 1 for 12 from 3-point range, areas that need to improve against stiffer competition.

"Every game is preparation for the next one," Mitchell said. "We're always trying to get better and that's been our emphasis, no matter who we're playing. There's always an opportunity to get better. We obviously didn't play a perfect game out there."

Destini Texada led the Huskies with six points. Her baseline shot with 9:38 left in the half ended Houston Baptist's drought and cut Duke's lead to 22-11.

The Blue Devils allowed only one more field goal for the rest of the half and steadily widened the margin by controlling the boards and generating easy points off steals.

The Huskies committed 16 turnovers, shot 24 percent from the field and were outrebounded 29-12 in the first half.

"We wanted to get out there and get after it," Mitchell said. "There was a certain level of poise we needed to show. The first few minutes, we didn't show that. As the game progressed, we got better at it."

The Blue Devils led 41-14 at the break, despite giving away 14 turnovers and going 0 for 8 from 3-point range. They looked much smoother in the opening minutes of the second half, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots to stretch the lead to 63-16.

"We've got a lot of speed and athleticism and it's a great thing," McCallie said. "Once we started establish the tempo, our offense flowed much more easily."

Duke hit 100 points on Shay Selby's 3-pointer with 3:06 left. The Blue Devils missed their first 11 attempts from 3-point range.

Houston Baptist, with an enrollment of 2,552, is in its third year of a five-year transition to full Division I membership. The women's basketball team went 8-21 in 2008-09 and had 11 underclassmen on its roster entering the season.

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