PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Duke opened its first tough stretch of the season with a surprisingly easy victory.
Abby Waner scored 21 points, Lindsey Harding added 19 and the Blue Devils (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) cruised to an 85-45 victory over Rutgers (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 19 AP) in the Jimmy V Women's Basketball Classic on Monday night.
"Abby was doing a great job starting it off and I followed her lead, especially in the first half," Harding said. "It's just getting that confidence. I have to show that confidence, and if I show it, my teammates will follow that. And they did."
Alison Bales had 11 points and Carrem Gay grabbed 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils (7-0), who opened a stretch in which they play three ranked opponents in seven days. They host Vanderbilt (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP) on Thursday and Texas (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) on Sunday before a 10-day break for exams.
"We were excited," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "We really want to test ourselves."
Matee Ajavon, making her season debut after recovering from surgery for a stress fracture in her left leg, scored 14 points to lead the Scarlet Knights (2-3).
"It was just a last-minute thing," said Ajavon, was wasn't expected to play until later this month. "I've been practicing for the past week or so. I felt good, so I told Coach."
Epiphany Prince had 11 points and Kia Vaughn grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds for Rutgers, which suffered its biggest loss under coach Vivian Stringer and its worst at home since a 42-point loss to Penn State on Nov. 28, 1994.
"I was not pleased with anything we did," Stringer said. "It gives us a great spot to start. What's most disappointing is the way that we lost. We became unraveled."
Stringer pointed to the inexperience of her team, which includes five freshmen and two sophomores who had limited playing time last season.
"Playing here with the magnitude of that game, I was hoping we would settle down, but it was a bit much," she said. "This team is not capable of handling that."
Duke, which lost to Maryland in the national championship game last season, scored the final four points of the first half to take a 39-18 lead at the break. The Blue Devils then scored the first 11 points of the second half to stretch the lead to 32 on Bales' three-point play with 17 minutes left.
"We wanted to take advantage of our experience and set the tone with our defense," Goestenkors said. "We ran a little press and changed things up."
A 6-0 run, capped by two free throws by Bales, gave Duke a 65-28 lead with 8:13 to go.
Duke shot 51 percent from the floor, topping the 50-percent mark for the third straight game. Waner was 9-for-15, including 3-for-7 on 3-pointers, and Harding 7-for-12.
Rutgers, playing for the first time since Nov. 24, shot 26 percent from the floor, including 3-for-16 on 3s.
Duke improved to 3-0 in the Jimmy V Classic, having beaten Tennessee in 2002 and Purdue in 2003. The Scarlet Knights made their first appearance in the fifth year of the women's event honoring former North Carolina State coach and Rutgers alumnus Jim Valvano.