After trailing by as many as four points in the second half, No. 1 Duke stormed back behind 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting from guard Seth Curry to stave off Santa Clara, 90-77, Saturday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The win gives Duke its 101st straight home win over a non-conference opponent at Cameron Indoor.
Duke used a 13-3 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half to pull ahead, aided by a focus on the transition game offensively and slowing the frantic Santa Clara pace that kept the game close in the first half.
Santa Clara was hurt by foul trouble, especially senior Kevin Foster, whose 18 points paced the Broncos in the first half. He picked up his third foul in the first 10 seconds of the second half and Duke was in the bonus by the 15-minute mark.
Foster was the key all afternoon for the Broncos, fighting through foul trouble to be the Broncos’ go-to scorer. He sat the final three minutes of the first half after matching his season average of 18 points in the first 20-minute period.
The first half was a game of runs, with Santa Clara beginning the game on a 5-0 run, only to see Duke rip off a 14-2 run and take the lead, 25-14, with 8:31 remaining in the half.
Santa Clara then answered with its own 16-4 run to pull ahead, 30-29, with 4:51 left in the first. The Broncos were able to hold the fort while Foster sat for the remaining minutes of the first half.
With toughness inside, Santa Clara came out of the gate in the second half on a 9-3 run to gain its biggest lead since the opening minutes, 45-41.
But then Duke took over.
The size advantage of the Blue Devils translated into the foul trouble that Santa Clara struggled with Saturday. Outside shooting also extended the SCU defense away from the basket, thanks in large part to Curry’s 4-of-7 shooting from deep.
Duke held Foster to just one field goal in the first 12 minutes of the second half. By effectively eliminating Santa Clara’s biggest threat, the Blue Devil run was possible.
Santa Clara made one more run late in the second half by pulling to within nine points, but could get no closer.
Mason Plumlee finished with another double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds, and helped to widen the Duke advantage on the boards in the second half. The Blue Devils won the rebounding battle, 36-26.
Foster finished with 29 points for Santa Clara.