HARTFORD, Connecticut — Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie doesn't see a huge talent gap between her No. 10 Blue Devils and No. 2 Connecticut.
Monday night's 83-52 loss, she said, was more about effort.
"They played harder than us at every position," McCallie said. "They got every hustle play."
Leading by two points with more than seven minutes to go in the first half, Duke watched as UConn found another gear. The Huskies went into halftime on an 11-2 run and ended up blowing out the Blue Devils.
"It was a pathetic display from us, especially in terms of hustle and intangibles," McCallie said.
Moriah Jefferson led five Huskies in double figures with 18 points. The junior point guard, who had a career-high 24 points against SMU on Saturday, hit six of her eight shots and was 3 of 4 from 3-point range. She also had four assists.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Breanna Stewart each scored 14 points and Morgan Tuck added 13 for the Huskies (10-1), who have won nine straight since a November loss at No. 15 Stanford.
"We come to Connecticut because we work harder than everybody else, and we proved that tonight," Stewart said.
Freshman forward Azura Stevens led Duke (8-4) with 16 points. Elizabeth Williams added 15.
The Huskies outran the Blue Devils, using pressure defense to force 22 turnovers while outscoring Duke 17-2 on the fast break.
This was the 14th and last scheduled meeting between the teams. UConn has won 11 of those games and the last eight in a row by an average of 29 points.
"Connecticut has been the better team every time," McCallie said. "They've had better leadership on the floor than we've had. It's not rocket science."
It was close for much of the first half.
The Blue Devils trailed 19-8, but got back into the game with a 16-3 run. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Stevens and Ka'lia Johnson tied it at 22. A basket by Williams gave the Blue Devils the lead.
But UConn took over from there and led 33-26 at halftime. A driving layup by Jefferson gave UConn its first 20-point lead at 58-38 midway through the second half, and the Huskies were not threatened again.
Duke had the size advantage on the Huskies, but UConn outrebounded the Blue Devils 38-32. The Huskies also blocked seven shots.
"Obviously, we wanted to go inside," Williams said. "I don't think we did a good job of finishing inside."
The Blue Devils, who beat Kentucky when the Wildcats were ranked No. 8 last week, have not beaten two top-10 teams in a row since the 2010-11 season.
Duke: Williams had never before scored more than 11 points against UConn. She had 10 at halftime of this one. Her 15 points moved her into ninth place on Duke's career scoring list with 1,632.
UConn: The Huskies have won 28 consecutive games against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Their last loss against the ACC came to North Carolina in January 2007.
McCallie said she would consider playing UConn again in the future, but the time had come to rotate the Huskies out of the schedule. "Our schedule is too hard," she said. "This team has not responded the way that I would have liked them to." Duke lost to No. 1 South Carolina 51-50, and beat No. 8 Kentucky 89-68.
Duke: The Blue Devils head home for their first game of 2015, facing North Carolina A&T on Jan. 2.
UConn: The Huskies play their first conference road game of the season on Wednesday against East Carolina.