ATHENS, Ga. -- Leaonna Odom saved her best for the NCAA Tournament. Again.
Odom scored a career-high 25 points, including nine in Duke's dominant third period, and the fifth-seeded Blue Devils beat No. 12 seed Belmont 72-58 in the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
It was the second straight year Odom, a sophomore forward, opened the NCAA Tournament with a new scoring high. She had 23 points in the Blue Devils' first-round win over Hampton last year.
Odom said her motivation was "just wanting to advance and give our seniors another game."
She entered the tournament averaging 8.5 points per game but has scored in double figures in four of the last six games.
"I'm super proud of her but we see this in here every day in practice," said Duke guard Lexie Brown.
Belmont center Sally McCabe said Odom's big game "definitely wasn't a surprise."
"She can elevate so high," McCabe said. "All we can do is stay right in front of her and not foul."
Duke (23-8) led only 32-31 at halftime before outscoring Belmont 21-9 in the third period. The Blue Devils changed their defense after seeing the Bruins score 24 points on 3-pointers in the first half.
"We just talked at halftime that we need to shut that down," Brown said. "We looked at the score and they had only seven points that weren't 3s."
Belmont made only three 3-pointers in the second half -- too few to keep up with Duke's 32-18 advantage in points in the paint.
"They really challenged us and gave us some problems with their length and their size," said Belmont coach Bart Brooks. "... That was a really good team that beat us."
Belmont (31-4) saw its 22-game winning streak end. The Bruins were denied in their bid for their first NCAA win.
Kylie Smith led Belmont with 20 points.
Duke's Rebecca Greenwell, who had 18 points, opened the third period with a layup and closed the quarter by sinking a 3-pointer to give Duke a 53-40 lead.
Belmont scored the first six points of the final period, closing the gap to 53-46, forcing a timeout by Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. Odom ended the run by scoring on a layup and a jumper following the timeout.
McCabe's 3-pointer with 1 minute remaining cut Duke's lead to 65-56.
Brown, who had 13 points, made six free throws in the final 1:18 to protect Duke's lead.
Belmont: The Bruins stayed close early with their sharp long-distance shooting, making 8 of 14 3-pointers in the first half. Kylee Smith sank Belmont's first 3-point attempt of the second half. The Bruins couldn't continue the pace, finishing 11 of 28 on 3s.
Duke: The Blue Devils took their 24th consecutive first-round win. UConn has the nation's longest streak, at 25 games. ... Brown's school-record streak of 29 games with a 3-pointer ended. She missed each of her four attempts. ... Erin Mathias had 10 points.
BRUINS LOOK AHEAD
For the second straight year, Belmont gave a favored team an early scare. After a 73-70 first-round loss to Kentucky in last year's tournament, the Bruins led Duke 31-28 late in the first half following back-to-back 3-pointers by Ellie Harmeyer. Duke scored the final four points of the half for a 32-31 lead.
Belmont made its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
"We have a really good group coming back and I told them in the locker room don't take this for granted," Brooks said.
Duke will play Georgia, which beat Mercer on Saturday, in Monday night's second round.