DURHAM — Celeste Taylor and Elizabeth Balogun each scored 13 points and Duke marked its return to NCAA Tournament action with an 89-49 romp past Iona on Saturday night.
It was the first NCAA Tournament win for Duke since 2018, when it last had a spot in the tournament. Duke has won at least one NCAA Tournament game in all 25 seasons when it has been in the field.
Kennedy Brown and Jordyn Oliver added 10 points apiece as the Blue Devils shot 57.1% from the field.
Duke’s Kara Lawson, who appeared in three Final Fours as a Tennessee player, coached in an NCAA Tournament game for the first time.
Third-seeded Duke (26-6) will face sixth-seeded Colorado, an 82-60 winner over Middle Tennessee in the site’s first game, in Monday’s second round.
Ketsia Athias led No. 14 seed Iona (26-7) with 20 points. Juana Camilion had 12.
Duke led 47-16 at halftime, shooting 60.6% from the field. Ten players scored for the Blue Devils in the first half.
In part because of 13 turnovers, Iona managed only 20 shots from the field in the half and attempted just one free throw.
Duke scored the game’s first eight points, but Iona had the next six. Then the Gaels only had four points in the next nine-plus minutes extending into the second quarter. By then, Duke was up 32-10.
Duke ended up with a 43-15 rebounding advantage.
The Blue Devils hadn’t scored more than 44 points in their last three games, so seeing the ball go in the basket was a bonus. Duke has five victories this season with margins of 40 or more points.
Duke will host the Buffaloes on Monday.