Devils dominate Jackets in women's ACC opener
It may have been the start of the conference season, but there wasn’t much difference between Thursday’s game and Duke’s previous contests. It was another blowout in favor of the Blue Devils.
Sophomore Elizabeth Williams had a career-high 25 points, along with 11 rebounds and six blocks, as No. 4 Duke defeated Georgia Tech 85-52 in both teams’ ACC opener at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The Blue Devils (7-0) had beaten their first six opponents by an average of 34.5 points. Haley Peters added 11 points and 11 rebounds, Ka’lia Johnson had nine points and 11 rebounds and point guard Chelsea Gray had 13 points, six steals, five assists and no turnovers.
“I think we’ve all known for a while that the sky is the limit for our team,” Peters said. “There have been times on the court, it’s probably not good for me to say this, but I will just watch what Chelsea does, what Tricia (Liston) does, what (Alexis Jones) does, because it’s so fun to see how good we all are together.”
At one point, Gray received a three-quarters court inbounds pass and one-touched a pass to Elizabeth Williams for a lay-up. A minute later, Jones broke up a 3-on-1 break for Georgia Tech by blocking a lay-up attempt from Brittany Jackson.
It was Duke’s 35th straight win against Georgia Tech (3-5), which was picked by the media and the coaches to finish third in the ACC but has lost four games so far against Top 20 teams. The Blue Devils were selected No. 1 in both preseason ACC polls.
“I think you saw today why Duke is the No. 1 team right now in the ACC,” Yellow Jackets coach MaChelle Joseph said. “They have so many weapons. They’re so balanced offensively.”
The Blue Devils entered the game leading the nation in 3-point shooting at 48.4 percent, but made just 2-of-10 from behind the arc Thursday. Still, the Blue Devils had no trouble jumping ahead of Georgia Tech, going up 15-4 five minutes into the game and never losing the double-digit lead.
The Yellow Jackets, who were led by preseason All-ACC guard Tyaunna Marshall’s 23 points, scored six in a row early in the second half to cut the deficit to 45-35 and force a Duke timeout. But Gray scored eight straight points as Duke pushed the lead back up to 20 with 13:48 remaining, and Georgia Tech never threatened again.
The Yellow Jackets shot just 28.6 percent — including 1 of 20 from behind the arc — and Marshall was the only player in double figures.
“It was a great defensive game for us,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “When we have three players with 11 rebounds that’s the general idea – trying to be aggressive from all spots.”
Duke was actually depleted in the post since center Allison Vernerey, who had played at least 20 minutes in every previous game, sat out Thursday night with an elbow injury (she is expected back Sunday against St. John’s).
While the frontcourt stayed out of foul trouble, guards Gray and Alexis Jones each had four fouls, giving junior Chloe Wells her first extended action of the season. Wells, who has been dealing with a leg injury, responded with eight points in 14 minutes.
“I am fantastically happy, we all are, for Chloe,” McCallie said. “She keeps up this rate, she’s really going to be a star.”
Wells isn’t the only one who is regaining her health. Williams also appeared to be almost fully back from a stress fracture — last season’s ACC rookie of the year made her first start last week, and played a season-high 32 minutes Thursday.
“It feels really good. I’m feeling good,” Williams said. “It was nice to play well and it was nice to see everyone around me play well.”
That includes Peters, who recorded the second double-double of her career.
“It kinda stinks that it’s only my second one but it feels good,” the junior said. “I should be getting more of those this year.”
No. 4 DUKE 85, GEORGIA TECH 52
Percentages: FG .286, FT .636. 3-Point Goals: 1-20, .050 (Wallace 1-2, Marshall 0-1, Fogdemark 0-1, McDonald 0-2, Blain 0-2, Maye 0-2, Jackson 0-5, Whiteside 0-5). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Hamilton-Carter, McDonald, Marshall). Turnovers: 22 (Whiteside 4, Hamilton-Carter 3, Maye 3, Marshall 3, Rogers 3, Jackson 2, McDonald, Blain, Wallace). Steals: 10 (Maye 3, Hamilton-Carter 2, Marshall 2, Wallace, Jackson, Whiteside). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .467, FT .722. 3-Point Goals: 2-10, .200 (Peters 1-2, Liston 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Wells 0-1, Gray 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked Shots: 9 (Williams 6, Jones 2, Peters). Turnovers: 19 (Williams 7, Peters 4, Jones 3, Johnson 2, Liston 2, Wells). Steals: 13 (Gray 6, Johnson 2, Moore, Jones, Peters, Wells, Williams). Technical Fouls: None. Georgia Tech 27 25—52 Duke 41 44—85 A—4,084. Officials—Dee Kantner, Susan Blauch, Lawson Newton.