“A good game for us in a lot of different ways,” the fourth-year coach said, noting that the No. 3 Blue Devils (17-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) were wrapping up a quick, but taxing, road trip that started with a victory at No. 21 Florida State on Friday night.
“We’ve got some young players that have to go through some things,” McCallie said.
Allison Vernerey had 15 points and seven rebounds to lead Duke, which cruised to a big early lead and then stymied a Hokies rally to win its 14th in a row against Virginia Tech.
Duke and Florida Gulf Coast are the only unbeaten teams remaining in Division I.
“We had a lot of team energy,” Vernerey said.
They also had a lot of help. Virginia Tech turned the ball over 22 times, the fourth time in five games—all losses—that it has had at least 20 giveaways. It shot just 32 percent.
Duke led 34-21 at halftime, but missed its first eight shots after halftime while Virginia Tech (9-9, 0-4) scored six straight points to get within seven. Jasmine Thomas ended the dry spell with a 15-footer, sparking a 9-0 run, and Duke led by at least 10 thereafter.
Thomas scored 12, and was happy to see Vernerey and freshman Tricia Liston pick up some scoring slack on a day when Krystal Thomas and Karima Christmas combined for eight points.
“I’m pretty much getting to see what we’ve already expected from them, that they would be able to come in and contribute and pick up things quickly,” Jasmine Thomas said.
Liston added 13 points and Thomas 12.
The Blue Devils, coming off three consecutive victories against ranked teams, used an early 16-2 run to open a 20-6 lead. Thomas started it with a foul line jumper and added a 3-pointer, and Liston also hit a 3-pointer and a fastbreak layup in the spurt.
Apart from the early burst in the second half, the Hokies put up little resistance.
“What I’m searching for on this team is some chemistry and some leadership,” coach Beth Dunkenberger said. “I know it’s mid-January, but I don’t feel like we are yet at that point.”
Shanel Harrison led the Hokies with 10 points and Alyssa Fenyn had nine.
“It’s not lack of talent,” Fenyn said of the Hokies’ woes.
“If anything, it’s lack of effort.”
Other than Jasmine Thomas, McCallie rested her best players for much of the second half, allowing her younger players to gain experience in conference play. She used 11 players.
After Thomas’ jumper got them on the scoreboard after halftime, Liston hit a pair of free throws, fellow freshman Haley Peters scored inside and Liston hit a 3-pointer, capping the 9-0 run that gave Duke a 43-27 advantage. The Hokies closed to 45-35 on Harrison’s 3 from the top of the key with 9:20 left, but Vernerey scored inside and the Blue Devils pulled away.
The victory continued the best start to a season in McCallie’s 19 years as a head coach, including the last four with the Blue Devils.