Blue Devils hold Holy Cross to 26 percent shooting

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- The biggest challenge for Duke was trying not to score so quickly. It didn't really work.

Monique Currie had 21 points, freshman Laura Kurz added 15 and No. 2 Duke held Holy Cross to 26 percent shooting in a 101-42 rout Tuesday night.

Alison Bales and Wanisha Smith added 14 apiece for the Blue Devils (14-1), who have won 12 straight since a loss at Notre Dame in the Preseason WNIT. They open their Atlantic Coast Conference schedule Sunday against new member Virginia Tech.

Duke scored more than 100 points for the first time this season.

"I'm just proud of the way we came out," Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors said. "I thought that we had really good energy and good focus. I feel like we're coming along."

With only eight players available -- guard Caitlin Howe was out with a leg injury -- Goestenkors had little choice but to run up the score a bit. Starters Bales and Smith were still on the floor at the final buzzer, and six players finished in double figures.

Goestenkors eventually called off the pressing, man-to-man defense in favor of a zone with about seven minutes left, but the damage was already done.

"It's tough when we only had eight players, because you're constantly putting in great players," Goestenkors said. "I put in the five-pass rule with about eight minutes left, just to try to take some time off the clock and slow down our scoring."

Holy Cross (5-8) shot only 15 percent in the first half (3-for-20) and had 20 turnovers to fall behind 54-14. Sarah Placek led the Crusaders with 10 points.

Holy Cross has reached the postseason in eight of the past 10 seasons under coach Bill Gibbons, including seven trips to the NCAA Tournament. A 13-15 record last season was his first losing mark in 19 years at the school. Already this season, the Crusaders have a 75-36 loss at Connecticut and a 92-49 loss at DePaul.

"It's tough, and I know I'm going to get second-guessed and get bashed by the naysayers for playing this kind of schedule," Gibbons said. "I promised the girls, when they came to Holy Cross, that we would play this kind of schedule.

"I really do feel this team is going to respond and win 20 games, win the Patriot League tournament and go to the NCAA Tournament," he said.

Duke had two first-half runs of 18-0 and 19-0, stretching the lead to 44-7 at one point. Kurz made her first four 3-pointers -- giving her a season high before the break. Currie did her part by scoring on a combination of inside and outside moves that often left the Holy Cross defenders shaking their heads.

"It was exciting," Kurz said. "I was feeling good and I hit the first four in a row. My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and looking for me."

Two free throws by Brittany Keil with about four seconds left in the first half cut Duke's lead to 40, and the second half was essentially garbage time.

"In the beginning of the game, we knew that we just needed to worry about getting better and work on things that we've been working on in practice," Currie said. "Obviously, it's difficult, but we have to be able to maintain our focus and execute when we need to."