by Mike Potter
The Blue Devils (21-3, 12-0 ACC) haven’t lost to anyone ranked lower than No. 8 nationally and the only home loss was to No. 2 Connecticut.
The Hokies (7-18, 3-9) are coming off a four-point home loss Monday night that assured lowly Boston College won’t finish with a winless conference record. Tech, in its first season under Dennis Wolff, did have one road miracle this season in a 75-69 win over No. 8 Maryland on Jan. 26, but that is the only result keeping the Hokies from being on a 10-game losing streak.
Duke has won 16 in a row in the series including a 61-34 romp Jan. 15 in Blacksburg.
It’s a “Play 4 Kay” game, so both teams are wearing pink something or another.
It takes a while for Duke to turn it into a runaway but it eventually happens, as the Blue Devils take a 67-45 victory to sweep the season series.
The Hokies show some fire in the early going, taking a 13-9 lead with 14:35 left in the half on a layup from Latorri
But Duke scores the next eight points — five of them from Chelsea Gray — and never trails again.
Duke’s Richa Jackson suffers an injury to her left knee with 9:47 left in the first half and does not return to the game. She reappears on the bench at halftime after walking to it with crutches, and is certainly going to be out for a while.
Duke leads 36-25 at halftime and takes its biggest lead of the contest down the stretch, scoring the last 11 points of the game over the final 5:32 for the big margin.
Tricia Liston leads Duke with 17 points including a trio of 3-pointers, while Gray adds 15 with six assists. Elizabeth Williams chips in 12 with eight rebounds and Haley Peters 11 with nine.
Aerial Wilson is the only Hokie in double figures with 19 points.
Duke shoots 35.2 percent from the floor to 31.0 for the Hokies, wins the rebound battle 45-35 and commits 12 turnovers to Tech’s 18.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “I’m proud of our team’s effort, and I think the second half was more of a focused effort for us. It was another physical battle in the ACC, and I like the fact that we kept (Monet Tellier) in check a little bit in the second half. I love that we were aggressive and got to the line a lot. I thought Chelsea showed great poise and decision-making, and I thought Tricia really stepped up and hit some key shots.”
Wolff: “Our kids played hard. I told them in the locker room if we can play this hard and try to eliminate the periods where we make mental mistakes, then we can hang in a little bit longer with a team as good as that. I know (Duke) was not at the top of its game, but our kids played hard.”
Liston: “We’re all together. Once Chloe (Wells) was out (with academic problems) we all felt bad and missed her being around, and we just bring that onto the court. And now it’s Richa. I think we’re going to do the same thing because we’ve got to play because they can’t, and we just have to take that in mind.”
Gray: “It hurts when you see a player down. You’re like, ‘Get up! I know you’re going to get up! Get up!’ and when (Jackson) didn’t we were like ‘The rest of this game, we’re playing for her.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke can take a lesser team’s best shot plus an injury early on and finish with a methodical win.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Gray’s steal and layup for a three-point play to give Duke the lead for good at 14-13 with 14:01 left in the first half.
Duke: Won 5.
Va. Tech: Lost 5.
Duke leads 19-2.
Virginia Tech vs. Virginia, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Duke at Maryland, Sunday, 3 p.m.