No. 3 DUKE IN WALTZ
Tricia Liston scored 21 points and tied her career high with 12 rebounds, leading No. 3 Duke to a 90-55 victory over Virginia 90-55 on Thursday night.
No. 3 Duke decided the best way to get past the loss of a star player is to blow past the pain with a relentlessly aggressive approach.
Virginia proved little more than a speed bump on the way to a resounding victory Thursday night.
Playing their first game since all-ACC guard Chelsea Gray was lost for the season to a broken kneecap, the Blue Devils dominated the Cavaliers from beginning to end in a 90-55 ACC women’s basketball win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It fuels the fire, something out of your control happening like that to an all-American,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “That’s an unprecedented thing. From our standpoint, we’re just going after our best basketball. We’re just going to go after it.”
Duke (17-1, 4-0 in ACC) blitzed Virginia with a 20-4 run to start the game. Senior Richa Jackson, who stepped into the starting lineup in Gray’s absence, scored Duke’s first basket on a layup and the final basket of the first half on a spinning layup at the buzzer. She scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half as Duke led 47-23 at intermission.
“I just wanted to remain focused and play with a lot of energy,” Jackson said. “With Chelsea being hurt, that was really sad for me. I took it pretty hard. So I just wanted to come in and try to bring energy and uplift the team.”
Jackson was one of six Duke players who scored in double figures. Senior guard Tricia Liston led the way with 21 points plus a team-high 12 rebounds. Junior center Elizabeth Williams scored 17 while sophomore guard Alexis Jones scored 10. Freshman Oderah Chidom came off the bench to score 11 points with nine rebounds.
That balance, McCallie said, is part of why her team is capable of still having a great season even without Gray.
“You just go,” McCallie said. “We attack with what we have. We’re a very talented team. There’s a lot of people that play a lot of spots ad it’s not like we just have five players or something. We have a lot of players.”
Having reached the NCAA Tournament’s elite eight in each of the last four seasons without making the Final Four, Duke has strived all season to play their best 40 minutes. Against Virginia, the Blue Devils believe they were very close to that. Duke shot 55.9 percent and forced Virginia into 17 turnovers with 13 steals. The Cavaliers shot just 31 percent.
“I think it’s also a sign of the team coming together,” Liston said. “That’s what we did today out on the floor and that’s where it needs to be for us to be playing our best basketball. So just working from the past games where we hadn’t done that, I think it shows we are a lot closer to the team we want to be at the end of the year.”
Virginia (8-9, 1-3 in ACC) arrived at Cameron after one of its more impressive efforts of the season. Coached by former Duke player Joanne Boyle, the Cavaliers pushed No. 2 Notre Dame to the end before losing 79-72 on Sunday.
But Duke proved to be in no mood to mess around.
The Blue Devils never trailed, leading 15-2 less than five minutes into the game. After Duke led 20-4, Virginia climbed back within nine points once. But the Blue Devils took off again, pushing their lead to 41-21 with 2:10 left in the half on a Jackson basket.
“They are really good,” Boyle said. “I would correct you in saying that we played really hard. I thought this was one of our worst performances in terms of effort. I don’t think we played hard at all. We practice harder than we played tonight. I don’t think that we played at the pace we had been playing against Notre Dame.”
McCallie said her team’s ability to set a quick pace to the game was important and it’s something they need to keep doing as the season progresses.
“It’s all about grabbing the tempo and never letting it go,” McCallie said. “And a team, you can almost feel them breathing heavily to catch up. And actually I think it was the first time this year we’ve forced that on a team for a long period of time.”
|No. 3 DUKE 90, VIRGINIA 55|
Percentages: FG .310, FT .818.
3-Point Goals: 2-15, .133 (Wolfe 1-3, Gerson 1-5, Barnette 0-1, Mason 0-1, Garner 0-1, Randolph 0-1, Franklin 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 2 (Umeri, Barnette).
Turnovers: 17 (Randolph 4, Imovbioh 3, Suarez 2, Gaffney 2, Mason, Umeri, Franklin, Wolfe, Gerson, Garner).
Steals: 9 (Wolfe 2, Randolph 2, Mason, Gaffney, Imovbioh, Franklin, Garner).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .559, FT .333.
3-Point Goals: 9-20, .450 (Liston 4-6, Peters 2-2, Jones 2-4, Wells 1-3, Jackson 0-1, Henson 0-2, Frush 0-2).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 13 (Williams 6, Henson 3, McCravey-Cooper 3, Chidom).
Turnovers: 17 (Chidom 5, Johnson 3, Jones 3, Liston 2, Williams 2, Peters).
Steals: 13 (Williams 3, Jackson 2, Henson 2, Jones, McCravey-Cooper, Chidom, Liston, Wells, Johnson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Wesley Dean, Daryl Humphrey, Angelica Suffren.