EVANSTON, Ill. – The 21st-ranked Duke women's basketball team fell on the road at Northwestern, 84-58, Sunday afternoon in the 2018-19 season opener in Evanston, Ill.
Junior Leaonna Odom led the Blue Devils with her first double-double of the year and fifth of her career with 14 points and a career-high 14 boards in 25 minutes. Freshman Rayah Craig was right behind Odom with 13 points in 20 minutes of action in her Duke debut.
Northwestern got off to a hot start going ahead 5-0 as the Wildcats hit their first five shots of the contest. Trailing 8-2 less than two minutes into the game, the Blue Devils charged back to cut the lead to 8-7 as redshirt junior Haley Gorecki drained her first three-pointer of the season and rookie Onome Akinbode-James scored her first collegiate basket.
The Wildcats used a 7-2 run at the end of the first quarter to go ahead 18-11 heading into the second period.
After sophomore Jade Williams scored an early basket in the second period to cut the lead to seven, 20-13, Northwestern held Duke scoreless for over four minutes and the Wildcats led 24-13. Northwestern would go up by as many as 13, 28-15, with 3:46 remaining, but the Blue Devils closed with a 10-5 run to cut the lead to eight, 33-25, at the break.
At the half, Odom had nine rebounds and a team-high six points on 3-of-6 field goals. The Blue Devils hit 38.5 percent from the field in the first half as a team.
Northwestern went ahead by 20 in the third quarter, but the Blue Devils didn’t give up and was able to cut the lead to 64-54 with 5:56 remaining. This was spearheaded by Craig’s six straight points in the fourth quarter. After a Northwestern timeout, the Wildcats outscored the Blue Devils 18-0 and held Duke without a basket for over five minutes.
The Blue Devils had difficulty controlling the ball with 24 team turnovers to set up 15 Wildcats’ points.
As a team, Duke shot just 18.8 percent (3-of-16) from beyond the arc to Northwestern’s 40.0 percent (8-of-20).
The 26-point loss was the worst season-opening defeat since 1999 when the Blue Devils fell, 104-74, to third-ranked Connecticut.
Duke will remain on the road as the Blue Devils will next travel to Bangor, Maine to face the Black Bears of Maine Thursday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.