Durham, NC -- With conference nearly half-way through and both teams coming off of tough losses, tonight's match-up between Duke and Virginia was shaping up to be a good one. Although if history repeats itself, this is almost a sure Duke win, as they've won the last 22 meetings and 27 of the last 28.
Both teams were sporting pink in their uniforms tonight in honor of Play 4 Kay, an initiative of coaches and players for the fight against women's cancers.
Aggressive does not even begin to describe the energy between these two teams at the start.
Virginia took the early lead, up seven with 6:50 left in the first quarter. Within the next minute of play, Duke closed that lead and the game was tied at 12.
Then Duke not only stole the lead, but seemed to run away with the game. They went on an 8-0 run to finish the first quarter.
The start of the second quarter was a continuation of the end of the first. Duke excelled on both offense and defense.
Back-to-back turnovers by Virginia were only feeding into Duke's domination. With just under six minutes in the first half, Duke had a healthy 27-16 lead.
Virginia was not giving up, though, as evidenced by J'Kyra Brown's three-pointer.
However, in the final minute of the half, both Brown and Mikayla Venson picked up a foul, resulting in three points for Duke.
A missed shot by the Cavaliers turned into a scoring opportunity for the Blue Devils. Salvadores closed out the half with a three-pointer, giving Duke a 43-26 lead at the break.
The star of the first half though was redshirt sophomore Rebecca Greenwell, who was at the center of Duke's success. She was three for four behind the three-point line and finished the first half with 15 points in 18 minutes of play.
Virginia started the second half with the ball, and Breyana Mason got a much-needed 3-pointer on the first possession. Their defense also out came to play in the second half with an early steal and turnover. They were finally playing in sync.
After a 7-0 run by the Cavaliers, Salvadores turned things back in Duke's favor with a quick lay-up.
Virginia was not going down without a fight, though. Venson picked up a few 3-pointers, closing Duke's lead to single digits for the first time since early in the second quarter.
The aggressive nature from the first five minutes of the game returned. Players found themselves sacrificing their bodies. One play resulted in almost every player from both teams rolling on the ground after a loose ball.
At the end of the third, Duke got their mojo back with a buzzer-beater jumper by none other than the unstoppable Greenwell.
The Blue Devils started the fourth quarter with a double-digit lead of 56-45.
Neither team could really get going offensively to start. After a questionable out of bounds call in favor of Virginia, Duke got a turnover on the inbound pass, leading to a jumper by Crystal Primm.
In the final minute, Brown got her third 3-pointer for Virginia, but Greenwell responded with one of her own.
With three seconds left, there was a jump ball with the possession going to Virginia. The final shot was short, and Duke wins this one 67-52.
The Blue Devil's bench truly stepped up with Azura Stevens being out indefinitely with a torn plantar fascia in her left foot suffered in their last game against Notre Dame.
"I thought this was a great opportunity without someone who obviously plays a huge role in our offensive scheme. I thought we had some good solid team play," said Coach McCallie. "We really had three out of four quarters."
Greenwell finished the game with 25 points and season-high 10 field goals and 12 rebounds. This was also her first double-double of the season and sixth of her career.
Duke impressively held Virginia to 34 percent shooting on the night. The only negative of the night for them was their 25 turnovers.
"I think we're rushing too much. We get frazzled and need to play poised. We just need to slow down," said Greenwell.
Venson led Virginia with 22 points in 40 minutes of play.
Up next for the Blue Devils is a trip to Miami, while the Cavaliers return home to face in-state rival Virginia Tech.