RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Aziaha James looked completely at ease every time she lined up a shot Sunday. Fourth-ranked North Carolina State had its chance to get comfortable early, too.
James scored a career-high 33 points and the Wolfpack had 24 points off turnovers to beat Duke 72-57, regrouping from a loss at Miami days earlier.
James, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, made 12 of 20 shots, including three 3-pointers, while tying her career-best showing on the glass with eight rebounds.
“You see that ball go through the net a couple of times, and now that goal looks like a kiddie swimming pool or something," Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said.
James made 2 of 16 shots and missed all six of her 3-point tries in the Miami loss. This time, after some work getting up extra shots in the gym, things felt right again — including when she curled around to take a flip from Zoe Brooks and bury a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock late in the first quarter.
“That got my momentum up,” James said.
Mimi Collins added 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks for the Wolfpack (16-2, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference). N.C. State also got another strong floor game from Saniya Rivers (nine points, six rebounds, five assists and seven steals) while seeing the return of forward River Baldwin from an ankle injury that sidelined her three games.
Kennedy Brown scored 14 points for the Blue Devils (12-6, 4-3), who were coming off a home win against No. 14 Virginia Tech. But they sputtered early with a series of first-quarter turnovers.
Duke finished with 19 turnovers and struggled to make shots through the first three quarters. The Blue Devils shot 32.6% through 30 minutes before a better-shooting fourth, though the Blue Devils already were down 59-38.
“Definitely we were out of rhythm for sure on the offensive end in that first quarter,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said.
“They're very good in transition, very good at running at you. I just thought we were hurried more than anything and that forced those travels and moving-screen calls.”
Duke: The Blue Devils arrived with a surge from three straight league wins, the last two coming when they allowed just 46 points to both Georgia Tech and the preseason ACC favorite Hokies on Thursday night. But turnovers put them in a hole against a team quickly building momentum and backed by a sellout home crowd.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack started 14-0 but had lost two of three, first by a last-second basket at Virginia Tech and then a 73-59 defeat by the Hurricanes on Thursday.
“We needed to come out against a very aggressive team and show some toughness,” Moore said. “Proud of them for doing that.”
Duke twice got within 13 in the fourth. James answered each time.
She surpassed her previous high (26) with three free throws at the 6:13 mark after Duke had gotten within 62-49. She added a stickback with 2:40 left to crack the 30-point mark and give the Wolfpack a 69-54 edge.
Duke: The Blue Devils host No. 15 Florida State on Thursday.
N.C. State: Clemson hosts the Wolfpack on Thursday.
Get poll alerts and updates on the AP Top 25 basketball polls throughout the season. Sign up here. AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball