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No. 4 Blue Devils run past Clemson at home

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP)

Coming off its worst half of the season, Duke's defense didn't take long to regain its swagger. Chante Black and Krystal Thomas scored 16 points apiece and fourth-ranked Duke beat Clemson 77-53 on Friday night to secure its 12th consecutive 20-win season. The Blue Devils (20-3, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) were coming off a 75-60 loss at rival North Carolina in which they were outrebounded 54-38 and allowed the Tar Heels to score 50 second-half points. For a team that's excelled in those categories for most of the season, it was embarrassing. "We take pride in our defense and our full-court press and being able to shut down a team," Duke's Abby Waner said. "And that got away from us against North Carolina." Duke didn't waste any time in taking out its frustration on the Tigers (13-13, 2-9), who have lost six consecutive ACC games and six of seven overall. The Blue Devils came with an intensity the Tigers couldn't match, forcing turnovers on Clemson's first two possessions en route to the easy victory in which they never trailed. Using a combination of full- and half-court traps, the Blue Devils forced Clemson into 16 turnovers in the first half. Duke scored 20 points off the miscues and led 44-19 at halftime. "(We were) not attacking catching it, standing there, looking," Clemson coach Cristy McKinney said. "We invited them to come get us a couple times instead of moving the ball. We just were so tentative." Sthefany Thomas scored 18 points for the Tigers, who shot just 36.5 percent and didn't get closer than 20 points in the second half. Carrem Gay added 10 points for the Blue Devils, who remained a game behind Florida State in a tight conference race. Waner broke Georgia Schweitzer's school record for 3-pointers made, connecting on the 203rd of her four-year career with 14:23 remaining in the first half. The shot gave Duke its first double-digit lead at 19-8 and came during a 12-0 run that extended the margin to 26-8. "I didn't know that," Waner said, joking that she's sure she owns the record for attempts. "Anytime you make the record book here at Duke, it's such an esteemed program it's an honor." Duke had 11 of its 12 steals in the first half and held an opponent to 22 points or fewer in the first half for the 11th time to remain perfect at home, 12-0, and win its 12th straight over the Tigers. While the Blue Devils weren't as explosive in the second half, their intensity didn't let up like it has in some games. They ran down most of the loose balls and dominated the rebounding battle, outrebounding Clemson 32-16 in the half and 50-31 overall. It was a good sign for Duke, which had been outrebounded in four of its last five games after controlling the boards for most of the season. "It's so important for us as a team to be dominant on the boards, and everybody in the second half really tried to make a difference there," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. The Blue Devils shut down Clemson leading scorer Lele Hardy, who averages 17.3 points. During the first half, Hardy shot 0-for-4 and committed four turnovers before finishing with five points. Leading 14-8, Duke scored on six consecutive possessions while Clemson turned the ball over on four of six possessions. Gay's jumper gave Duke a 32-12 lead, and little-used Kathleen Scheer's 3-pointer made it 44-14. Waner had two 3-pointers and eight points to go with five steals. Bridgette Mitchell added eight points and nine rebounds while Thomas also had nine boards. "That was a big emphasis not only as an individual but as a team," Thomas said of rebounding. Karima Christmas, Duke's third-leading scorer in ACC play, missed the game after suffering a concussion against North Carolina. It's uncertain if she'll play at Tennessee on Monday.

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