DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke went the final 8 minutes, 40 seconds of the game without a field goal and made less than 50 percent of its free throws during that stretch.
The Blue Devils still played strong enough defense to hang on for the win.
Joy Cheek scored a career-high 21 points to help Duke (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) hold on for a 79-65 victory over James Madison (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) on Friday night.
"Our team and our hustle and our fight and our full-court press can make up for a lot," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It would have been nice to get 10, 12 or 14 more points off that free-throw line, for sure. But the reality is sometimes that's the way a game breaks. You've got to be able to control a game, regardless of how it breaks."
Jasmine Thomas added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils (8-2), who pulled away on the strength of 14-2 runs early in each half. Keturah Jackson scored 10 points for Duke.
The Blue Devils, who led 44-34 at halftime, built their biggest lead at 70-47 on a leaner in the lane by Shay Selby with 8:40 remaining. They missed their final nine shots from the floor and made just 9 of 20 free throws the rest of the way.
Dawn Evans capped a 13-2 spurt with a 3-pointer to cut James Madison's deficit to 72-60 with 4:40 to play, but the Dukes got no closer.
Evans scored 31 points to lead James Madison (7-1), which won its first seven games for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Sarah Williams scored 16 points and Tarik Hislop added 10 points for the Dukes.
"Duke was as good as advertised," James Madison coach Kenny Brooks said. "We knew they were big, we knew they were strong, and we knew they were fast. They willed their way on us, especially in the second half with the press. It slowed us down, and we got a little tentative."
The Blue Devils, who forced 21 turnovers, dominated the Dukes inside. James Madison's five post players combined to shoot 0 for 11 from the field as Duke finished with a 34-16 advantage on points in the lane.
All of that proved to be too much for Evans, the nation's second-leading scorer, to overcome with her long-range shooting.
Evans, who missed James Madison's 85-57 win over Siena on Sunday because of a kidney disorder, shot 12 for 27 from the field. She made six 3-pointers, a few from well beyond 25 feet, but finished with seven turnovers to go with her four assists.
"On defense, you never want to take a break," Thomas said. "But usually you kind of know that this player penetrates better than she shoots or she shoots better than she penetrates. Well, she did everything. So you just always had to be on your toes."