DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke came into the season knowing it had one of the best freshman classes in school history, and the No. 6 Blue Devils have so far lived up to the hype.
Haley Peters, the 6-3 winger, has made the biggest splash so far, and continued it on Sunday by coming off the bench for a season-high 17 points in an 82-55 rout of Western Kentucky.Jasmine Thomas added 16 points, four assists and four steals for the Blue Devils (4-0) while Kathleen Scheer, the junior forward who has started all four games after averaging 6.4 minutes in her first two seasons, chipped in 10 points and six rebounds."A bunch of people had great passes today," Peters said. "When the ball's in their hands you have to be ready, and I'm just confident whenever they have the ball in their hands we're in a good spot as a team. I just keep moving and our guards, especially today, do a great job of attacking and making the great pass. My first two baskets were wide-open layups that anyone could make. I'm having a lot of fun."It was the highest point total and largest victory margin of the season for Duke, which will play its next four games on the road."There were some good things out there," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I thought everybody contributed and played hard. We worked on a lot of things today and went with a lot of different combinations. We've got an excellent passing team. The freshmen are playing very veteran-smart and they're very hungry to get better."Janae Howard had 15 points, LaTeira Owens 14 and Arnika Brown 11 for Western Kentucky (0-3), which has lost to Duke each of the past three seasons."If there is a positive in this game it's that our basketball team has really struggled in our first two opening games with just starting a game," Hilltoppers coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. "I thought today Western Kentucky was more ready to play, but against a team like Duke you've got to be more ready to maintain that kind of intensity and focus."Duke shot 51 percent to 38 for the Hilltoppers, who committed 33 turnovers to 21 for the Blue Devils. Duke finished with season highs of 23 assists and 17 steals.The Blue Devils led 40-23 at halftime behind 11 points from Thomas, who also had three assists and three steals over the period.Duke took the lead for good at 6-4 on a pair of Krystal Thomas free throws with 16:07 left in the first half. The Blue Devils got a working margin at 26-16 when Peters hit a 3-pointer at the 8:37 mark to complete an 8-0 run."I think the strong point of our team is we have so many people who can create different passes," said Krystal Thomas, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds. "We're all trying to work on the different elements of our game trying to find each other."Duke put the game away with an 11-0 run early in the second half.