Liston, No. 3 Duke outlast Virginia Tech
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie looked as though she was still trying to process what she'd seen.
The No. 3 Blue Devils surrendered almost all of a 15-point second-half lead, hit a few clutch free throws in the waning seconds and held on to beat Virginia Tech 74-70 on Sunday, and McCallie almost seemed at a loss for words.
"They're the best 0-4 ACC team I've ever seen, for sure," McCallie said the Hokies, but her gushing ended there.
"We fell asleep and they woke up," she added. "It was terrible for us. You don't give up 47 points, get outrebounded and give up shots like we did. We didn't play with the same intensity. I think we thought it was a 20-minute game today."
Tricia Liston scored 22 points, and Alexis Jones had 19. The Blue Devils (18-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their eighth straight, beat Virginia Tech for the 20th consecutive time and extended the Hokies' losing streak to five games.
But they sure let it get interesting.
Uju Ugoka scored 29 points, including a putback with 14.5 seconds left the pulled the Hokies within 71-68. Liston than made a pair of free throws, and after Monet Tellier hit two for the Hokies, one more by Liston finished the scoring.
While McCallie seethed over what her team didn't do, Liston gave the Hokies plenty of credit for what they did.
"We didn't execute as well as we wanted to, but they also made some big plays on the offensive end and on the defensive end," she said. "That's a good test for us, and that's something that we need to have throughout the year to keep us on our toes and able to handle the end-game situations and tight situations like we had to today."
Vanessa Panousis added 21 points and Tellier had 18 for the Hokies (10-7, 0-4), who have now lost their four ACC games by a total of 20 points. Last year against the Blue Devils, they were outscored 135-59 in a pair of blowout losses.
"All week Coach was talking to us about people lose to Duke because they're afraid of them," Tellier said. "We didn't play like we were afraid of them, and, as Coach would say, for lack of a better word, we manned up."
Duke led 45-30 early in the second half before the Hokies rallied. Panousis' long 3-pointer with the shot clock running down made it 51-48 with 8:53 remaining, firing up the fans who tried to will the Hokies to an improbable victory.
But Jones quieted the crowd with a 17-footer to spark a 9-0 run as the Hokies went scoreless for 3½ minutes and turned the ball over three times. A three-point play by Ugoka, a steal on the inbounds pass and Ugoka's layup made it 71-68 in the final seconds, but the Blue Devils hung on.
Ugoka, Panousis and Tellier combined to score all but two of Virginia Tech's points.
Duke was playing its second game since losing All-American point guard Chelsea Gray to a fractured right kneecap, but as she did last year when Gray was hurt, Jones proved more than capable of running the show.
The Hokies started the day sixth in the nation in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to make just 33.4 percent. But the Blue Devils shot 60 percent (15 of 25) in the first half and finished at 53.1 percent, making 26 of 49 shots.
No. 3 DUKE 74, VIRGINIA TECH 70
Percentages: FG .531, FT .480.
3-Point Goals: 10-15, .667 (Jones 4-6, Liston 3-4, Peters 2-4, Jackson 1-1).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Williams 4).
Turnovers: 16 (Jones 6, Jackson 3, Liston 3, Williams 2, Johnson, Peters).
Steals: 5 (Jones 2, Johnson, Jackson, Williams).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .407, FT .882.
3-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Panousis 5-8, Ugoka 1-1, Tellier 1-4, Penn 0-1, N. Evans 0-1, Young 0-3, Maulupe 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 0.
Turnovers: 14 (Ugoka 3, Tellier 2, Panousis 2, Campbell 2, Maulupe 2, Young, N. Evans).
Steals: 5 (N. Evans 2, Ugoka, Campbell, Tellier).
Technical Fouls: None.