TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – With an inexperienced team starting its season, No. 7 Duke turned to its reliable leader and got a balanced effort to start the season.
Elizabeth Williams had 17 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks to lead the Blue Devils to a 90-40 win over Alabama on Sunday night.
"The overall effort was really good. Our focus was definitely there," said Williams, who is the only returning starter on a team picked to finish second in the ACC. "Our ability to get the ball inside early and to get stops defensively and hold them was overall a really good effort by our team."
The Blue Devils raced out to a 22-2 game-opening run and never looked back.
A pair of freshmen gave Duke three total double-doubles. Rebecca Greenwell had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Azura Stevens scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Oderah Chidom added 17 points.
"This team has great chemistry and leadership," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "This is a really fun team to coach. It's going to be a long time before we get to our best. It's going to take us awhile to figure out how to play with each other after losing those four starters.
Freshman Hannah Cook led Alabama (1-1) with 19 points. Ashley Williams scored eight.
Alabama coach Kristy Curry was encouraged by her team's fight late with a large deficit.
"I think we all tried to stay positive," Curry said. It certainly wasn't a lack of desire or effort or want-to. You've got to learn from these experiences, and at the same time I was pleased with our character."
Duke shot 55 percent from the floor and held Alabama to just 26 percent shooting. The Blue Devils outrebounded the Tide 55-22 and scored 28 points off turnovers. Duke was 25-of-34 from the free-throw line.
Duke: The Blue Devils are now 32-8 all-time in season openers, including 11 straight wins. Duke is also now 33-14 against SEC opponents.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide is 1-1 in coach Kristy Curry's second year. Curry led Alabama to a 7-9 SEC record last year, its most SEC wins since the 2001-02 season.
Alabama hosts Jacksonville State on Tuesday.
Duke visits Old Dominion on Thursday.
Duke featured two freshmen in the starting lineup on opening night for the first time under coach Joanne McCallie. Greenwell had a double-double after sitting out last season with a knee injury sustained her senior year in high school. Sierra Calhoun added five points and a rebound. Both made the Preseason ACC Newcomer Watch List. Alabama also started two freshmen, Cook and Karyla Middlebrook.
Williams' double-double was the 20th of her career, tied for eighth at Duke all-time. She moved up to eighth in school history for rebounds (802). Williams became the 10th player in Blue Devil history to register 1,500 points (1,508). Her six blocks moved her up to No. 2 all-time in the ACC (337).
At one point, Alabama's Cook lost her shoe but recovered to score a layup and draw a foul. "I didn't know what to do. What do you do when your shoe comes off?" Cook said. "I just threw my shoe and tried to get back on defense."