Karima Christmas, Duke hand Oklahoma State first loss

STILLWATER, Okla. -- After bringing in another stock of top-notch freshmen, Joanne P. McCallie has Duke (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) loaded with depth and talent.

Oklahoma State felt the full force of it for a half and left with its first loss of the season.

Karima Christmas scored 16 points, Allison Vernerey added a season-high 12 and Duke deployed a ravenous pressure defense to rout the previously unbeaten Cowgirls 73-45 on Sunday.

The Blue Devils (11-0) forced 17 first-half turnovers and rushed out to a 29-point halftime lead on their way to their sixth road win this season.

"That first half was as dominant of a half as we've played all year, a fantastically intense and immediate 20 minutes of basketball," McCallie said. "I'm really proud of our team for that."

Oklahoma State (8-1) was especially vulnerable to the full-court press with two freshmen taking over at point guard for departed second-team All-American Andrea Riley, the Big 12's all-time scoring leader. It was also the team's first game against a ranked opponent this season, and Duke was the highest-ranked nonconference team to play in Stillwater since 1989.

"We prepared for it all week. Just being a young team, we came out with our eyes wide open and scared to death," Lakyn Garrison said. "But you learn from these kind of games."

Garrison tied a school record with six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 20 points for the Cowgirls, who had a 48-game non-conference winning streak at Gallagher-Iba Arena snapped. Oklahoma State has been a regular in the Top 25 in recent years, but is rebuilding after losing Riley and Tegan Cunningham -- who made up the highest-scoring tandem in the nation last season.

Coach Kurt Budke started three freshmen, and they got knocked back almost from the start.

After committing two quick turnovers to fall behind 3-0, Duke simply overwhelmed the inexperienced Cowgirls with a full-court press to spark a 17-0 run. Oklahoma State committed 13 turnovers while getting only three shots off in the first 9 minutes of the game.

"You just wanted them to get at it. Particularly on the road, a nice crowd coming out, you want to be very focused as a team. I just think it was a team energy, great leadership across the board really," said McCallie, who rotated in 10 players in the first half. "I just think everybody was trying to get ready to do what they do.

"For that first 20 minutes, we were a very deep team."

Garrison hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to finally break a nearly 10-minute scoring drought, and Tiffany Bias added another 3 when she found herself open in transition after a steal. But even as the Cowgirls started getting shots off, they still weren't falling.

Oklahoma State didn't score again for the final 6 1/2 minutes before halftime, with Duke reeling off another 13 straight points to go up 38-9. The Cowgirls were only 3 of 21 in the first half.

"I think it's something that it's always going to be in the back of our minds. We don't want to do this again. We don't want to perform like this," Garrison said.

"When coach tells us something, we have to take it in and just buy into what their plan is for it, and we didn't really do that."

Budke said he thought the Cowgirls had bought into the game plan, but were overcome by nerves -- and the Duke defense.

"I guess they just kind of forgot everything. You go into a little bit of a panic mode, is what we went into," Budke said. "And when you go into panic mode, it's just 'Get the ball out of my hands. Who wants it?' That's kind of how we went."

Tricia Liston added 11 points and Chelsea Gray had 10 points and set new career-highs with eight rebounds and seven assists for Duke.

"It's been a real tough schedule just being away from our home crowd a lot, but we handle it the way that we do any other game," Christmas said. "We just come out, try to be focused, play our game and try to stay together."

The Blue Devils led 62-23 when Liston connected on a jumper from the left corner with 10:05 remaining to finish another stretch of eight straight Duke points.

Garrison finally provided a lift for the Cowgirls, hitting four straight 3-pointers during a 12-0 run as Oklahoma State found success with its own pressure defense.

The Cowgirls had been the third-stingiest defense in the nation, but easily allowed their highest point total of the season -- 20 more than they had in regulation in any other game -- despite forcing 25 turnovers.