Liston, Duke pay back Pack
With Duke and N.C. State willing to rain 3-point shot after 3-point shot, Blue Devils junior Tricia Liston reigned supreme Friday in the quarterfinals of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Liston made a career-high 6 of 10 attempts from 3-point range on her way to posting 26 points and 11 rebounds in Duke's 79-65 victory over the Wolfpack, which eliminated the Blue Devils a year ago in the quarterfinals.
"The number one thing on the scouting report for Tricia Liston is to not allow threes," N.C. State coach Kellie Harper said. "I think everyone in the gym knows that. It's not rocket science, and we open up the first possession of the game and Liston gets and makes a three.
"We also weren't focused on a few of their offensive sets that they run for her, and then a few times they made some really good plays. ... Obviously, you don't hope that she's going to miss; that's not the gameplan. The gameplan is to go in and take away threes from her."
And it wasn't just Liston. Five Duke players connected from outside the arc, as the Blue Devils tied the tournament record with 12 3-pointers against the Pack.
Point guard Alexis Jones made 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range, finished with 17 points. Richa Jackson and Elizabeth Williams added 13 points each for the Blue Devils.
With nine minutes left in the first half, the teams had combined for nine 3-pointers. By halftime, when Duke had opened a 42-33 lead, Duke and N.C. State had made 13 shots from outside the arc including two each by the Pack's Marissa Kastanek and Myisha Goodwin-Coleman.
Kastanek led N.C. State (16-16) with 18 points, while Markeisha Gatling powered inside for 16 and Goodwin-Coleman finished with 12.
"We didn't totally stop some of their players," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "(Kastaneck) is a very, very good player. She's been a tough player in the league her entire career.
"We did try to defend her, in case you were wondering. We didn't find her on certain occasions, which was just too bad for us."
In the second half, the Wolfpack whittled away at Duke's lead and finally tied the score at 49 on a steal and layup by Kastanek with 12:36 remaining.
Goodwin-Coleman made what would be her final 3-pointer with 10:36 left to give N.C. State a 54-50 lead, and Kastanek returned the margin to four with a drive inside at the 7:02 mark.
But the Pack went almost four minutes without scoring after that, and Duke made 10 straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
"They got some open looks and made them," Harper said. "I didn't think we got the ball to the paint in the next few possessions. At that point, when they took the lead, I thought we panicked a little bit, rushed some things.
"We have really shown this year that we can play at a very elite level," Harper said. "We've proven it several times. We have not been able to sustain that throughout the season, so that's why you're looking at a .500 record for us. I do believe we have matured a lot."
Having avoided being eliminated by the Pack for the second consecutive year, Duke moves on to face Florida State, which beat Miami 70-58 in Friday's opening game, in today's semifinals (1 p.m., Fox Sports South).
"We wanted to play today for ourselves," Liston said. "We had to prove it to ourselves that we belong to be here and that we wanted to be here.
"Tournament time is always a fun time, but it's one game and you're out. We really needed to keep that in our minds and have the mentality that it's one game at a time. You can't really look past any teams here."
Duke 79, NCSU 65
Percentages: FG .417, FT .636. 3-Point Goals: 8-24, .333 (Goodwin-Coleman 4-10, Kastanek 2-8, Williams 1-2, Barrett 1-3, Burke 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Goodwin-Coleman, Gatling, Burke). Turnovers: 13 (Brown 4, Kastanek 3, Barrett 2, Eli 2, Goodwin-Coleman, Burke). Steals: 10 (Brown 2, Burke 2, Goodwin-Coleman 2, Gatling, Eli, Barrett, Kastanek).
Percentages: FG .439, FT .773. 3-Point Goals: 12-21, .571 (Liston 6-10, Jones 3-4, Johnson 1-1, Peters 1-2, Jackson 1-3, Wells 0-1). Team Rebounds: 5. Blocked Shots: 3 (Williams 3). Turnovers: 15 (Vernerey 3, Jackson 3, Jones 3, Williams 2, Peters 2, Wells, Liston). Steals: 5 (Wells 2, Williams, Jackson, Vernerey).
A—5,147. Officials—Dennis DeMayo, Bryan Brunette, Kathy Lynch.