LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The postseason is still three months away, yet No. 4 Duke got a taste of the physical style of play and quick turnarounds that it can expect come tournament time in March.
Chelsea Gray led five players in double figures with 18 points and the Blue Devils remained undefeated with a 75-60 victory over Southern California in the Women of Troy Classic on Saturday.
"Chelsea, I think, is the best point guard in the country," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "She is because she does everything. That productivity day in and day out is something she takes a lot of pride in."
Gray, making a homecoming trip to California, just missed a triple-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a 97-63 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Friday night that was McCallie's 150th victory at the school.
Tricia Liston added 14 points, Elizabeth Williams had 13 points despite still being bothered by a stress fracture in her left leg from last season, and Haley Peters 12 for the Blue Devils (10-0), who went 2-0 on their West Coast visit as part of the four-team event.
"Williams is not 100 percent, but she's doing the best she can right now," McCallie said. "I think I overplayed her last night."
The Blue Devils returned to the court less than 15 hours after their Friday win to play the slumping Trojans. Williams had 21 points and eight rebounds against Bakersfield.
"It was a good physical game, love the fact that we played back-to-back," McCallie said. "That gave us some good experience."
Gray had 10 rebounds, although Duke got beat on the boards for the first time this season, 44-36.
"I was happy with our effort," USC coach Michael Cooper said. "To outrebound them not only shows we are getting better but we controlled the paint."
Liston had four of the team's season-high eight 3-pointers.
"We were getting good looks," Liston said. "We weren't forcing things."
Cassie Harberts scored 17 points and Kate Oliver had 15 points and 10 rebounds for USC (3-7), which has lost five in a row. The Trojans committed 20 turnovers, leading to 21 points by Duke.
"It was a focal point for us," Gray said. "Just making sure they don't get the ball inside easily. We were getting out and filling the lanes."
Duke built a 15-point lead early in the second half only to see the Trojans cut it to nine points with 12 1/2 minutes remaining. Alexyz Vaioletama hit a 3-pointer, Harberts made one of two free throws and Brianna Barrett scored over Williams to pull USC to 54-45.
But Oliver committed three of her five turnovers, including throwing the ball directly into the hands of a Duke player, and the Trojans missed 5 of 7 free throws after getting within single digits.
"That's been a bit of a theme with us where we go through patches," Liston said. "We had that lull again. We need to play hard the whole 40 minutes."
The Blue Devils pulled away over the final 7 minutes, when Liston hit two 3-pointers.
"They come out strong, they end strong," Vaioletama said. "They play from the very first half to the end of the game. We've never really played against a team like that, going 110 percent every 40 minutes."
Cooper was back on the bench after he missed Friday night's loss to UC Davis because of a one-game suspension issued by the school for using an ineligible player at practice, which is a NCAA secondary violation.
"I've never been in that situation before," said Cooper, adding that he watched the game on computer.
Duke led 39-30 at the break after the teams played a nearly even first half. The difference came at the 3-point line, where the Blue Devils were 4 of 8 while the Trojans missed seven of their eight attempts. Both teams were even in the paint (16-16) and on second-chance baskets (13-13), while USC's bench outscored the Duke reserves 9-0.
"Coop said before the game we were going to war," Vaioletama said. "We had nothing to lose."
The Blue Devils' largest lead of 10 points came after they outscored USC 10-2 during a stretch late in the half. USC's only lead of the game came on the opening basket of the game.