Duke win clouded by worry
No. 5 Duke did just enough to edge Wake Forest 81-70 in ACC women’s basketball at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
And that task was made much more difficult when junior point guard Chelsea Gray - who leads the the league in assists and steals in addition to being Duke’s second-leading scorer - went down with a knee injury midway through the first half.
Wake Forest (11-15, 4-10 in the ACC) led 15-4 at the 14:57 mark and 18-9 with 13:12 to go in the first. But Duke (24-1, 14-0) went on a 12-0 run to take a 21-18 lead, and the game was back-and-forth after that.
At the 8:09 mark, Gray got an offensive rebound and was fouled by Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby. Upon landing, she immediately clutched her knee and screamed as Cameron Indoor Stadium fell silent.
She did not seem to be able to put any weight on the knee as she was taken into the locker room.
“It’s definitely scary,” Duke center Elizabeth Williams said. “We had definitely had to look within ourselves and try to just stay focused and stay poised. I think overall, we did a pretty good job of that.”
Duke outscored Wake 15-8 the rest of the half and led 37-28 at the break. When they came back for the second half, Gray was on the bench with her knee in a large brace, resting on some chairs. She looked to be in pain, but she cheered on her teammates as best she could from the bench.
“In the timeouts, I’d walk over there right before I’d go out and she’d tell me something that I needed to do or look for on the court,” said Duke’s Tricia Liston, who handled some point guard duties in Gray’s absence and had a career-high 29 points. “I think everybody felt her presence in the game and especially her coming out in the second half.”
Duke entered the game having won 38 straight against the Deacons but this was the closest game in the series in nearly a decade (Duke edged Wake 64-59 in the 2003 ACC Tournament).
The Blue Devils took a 13-point lead with 15:28 to go, and it looked like they would cruise to a win. And then Wake Forest’s Chelsea Douglas got going. The Deacons’ second-leading scorer had 14 of her career-high 24 points during a five-minute stretch to cut the Duke lead to just two points with 9:48 remaining.
Williams, who had a tough day shooting (4-of-15), had two of her four made field goals in quick succession to bring Duke’s lead back out to six points. Wake’s Lakevia Boykin hit her second three of the game to tie it again a few minutes later, but two Williams free throws followed by a Liston 3-pointer with 2:15 to go gave Duke a five-point lead.
“One thing I think we did well was we stayed in our heads. We didn’t get out of ourselves,” Liston said. “I think we stayed poised down to the end. We got stops on defense and then we came down and we’d execute well on offense and get a shot or a second shot and score. I think our execution down the stretch as well as our poise was really big for us today.”
And that was particularly difficult after Gray’s injury. On Monday against No. 7 Maryland, Gray became just the 28th Blue Devil to score 1,000 career points and the 10th-quickest to do it.
On Sunday, Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie confirmed that Gray suffered a dislocation in her right knee. McCallie said that Gray will miss at least the remainder of the regular season and an MRI tomorrow will reveal if there is any further damage to the knee. There’s a possibility Gray could return in the postseason if there is no further damage.
McCallie said Liston, Chloe Wells and Alexis Jones will all see time at the point.
“We’re fortunate - we have a pretty talented cast of characters and it’s a great opportunity for them to step up,” McCallie said. “That’s what we’ll expect every game. We’ll have maybe somebody different, maybe the same person.”
Liston’s five 3-pointers Sunday tied a career-high. Haley Peters added 13 points and 12 rebounds for Duke, while Williams had 11.
Wake Forest had four of five starters hit double figures, led by Douglas’ 24 points. Boykin added 17 points while Hamby and Sandra Garcia each had 10. The only Wake starter in single digits was Hillside High School alum Asia Williams, who had five points on 2-of-8 shooting (with ten assists).
No. 5 DUKE 81, WAKE FOREST 70
WAKE FOREST (11-15)
Hamby 3-9 4-4 10, Garcia 5-6 0-1 10, Douglas 9-19 1-2 24, Boykin 7-16 0-0 17, Williams 2-8 1-2 5, Walker 2-2 0-0 4, Calicott 0-1 0-0 0, Wright 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 6-9 70.
Peters 4-12 5-6 13, Williams 4-15 3-4 11, Jones 2-8 3-4 7, Wells 2-4 2-2 7, Gray 0-2 2-2 2, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson 3-5 1-2 8, Liston 8-12 8-9 29, Vernerey 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 25-62 24-29 81.
Halftime_Duke 37-28. 3-Point Goals_Wake Forest 8-19 (Douglas 5-7, Boykin 3-7, Garcia 0-1, Calicott 0-1, Williams 0-3), Duke 7-15 (Liston 5-7, Jackson 1-1, Wells 1-3, Peters 0-1, Jones 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Wake Forest 31 (Garcia 10), Duke 46 (Peters 12). Assists_Wake Forest 18 (Williams 10), Duke 15 (Peters, Wells 3). Total Fouls_Wake Forest 23, Duke 14. A_5,536.