Injury ends Gray's career at Duke

Jan. 13, 2014 @ 09:03 PM

Duke played the most important games of the women’s basketball season last season without one of the nation’s top players, and the Blue Devils learned Monday they’ll do the same this year.

Senior guard Chelsea Gray’s season is done after she suffered a broken right kneecap during Sunday’s 78-57 win over Boston College.

The news is a difficult blow for the No. 3 Blue Devils (16-1, 3-0 in ACC), who endured the loss of Gray last season as well. A 5-11 playmaking guard who was named co-ACC player of the year last season, Gray dislocated the same kneecap during a game with Wake Forest last February.

She missed Duke’s final four regular-season games, plus its run to the ACC Tournament championship and the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament.

“Chelsea is such a fighter, such a trooper, such a great person,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said Monday. “Obviously, we are extremely disappointed. It’s been a really sad day, a really sad day for our program. Our hearts go out to Chelsea and her family. We are all trying to work through this together. Take it one day at a time.”

Gray worked through a rigorous off-season rehabilitation to return to the Blue Devils for the start of this season. She started all 17 games, averaging 10.8 points while dishing out 7.2 assists per game.

Gray was limited to 16 minutes of play against Boston College on Sunday. She injured herself during the first half and was taken to the locker room for treatment from Duke’s medical staff.

She wasn’t on the floor when the second half started, but did eventually return to the game. Gray played seven minutes in the second half.

The initial diagnosis was a bruised quadriceps muscle. But follow-up exams on Monday, including an MRI, revealed the fracture.

“It’s pretty devastating to all of us,” McCallie said.

Last season, Duke’s depth allowed it to make up for the loss of Gray and play well in March. Alexis Jones, then a freshman, averaged 13.8 points, 6.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals after Gray was lost for the season.

Jones was named the most valuable player in ACC Tournament after averaging 17.7 points, 6.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

Jones also handed out 22 assists in Duke’s four NCAA Tournament games.

The Blue Devils have three experienced seniors who have logged plenty of playing time. Tricia Liston started all 17 games this season while Haley Peters has started 13 games. Peters missed four games with her own knee injury.

Richa Jackson came off the bench on Sunday to score 17 points.

With the disheartening news so fresh on Monday, McCallie wasn’t ready to say if the team’s experience last season would help it deal with Gray’s loss this season.

“It’s really hard to compare any team any time because it is so challenging,” McCallie said. “Obviously, we’re a lot better off having Chelsea with us.”