by Mike Potter
GREENSBORO COLISEUM All the pretenders and Cinderellas are gone at the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The first game of the doubleheader features No. 1 seed Duke (28-2) against No. 4 seed Florida State (22-8).
Duke, ranked No. 6 nationally, is 6-0 against the Seminoles, ranked No. 23, all-time in ACC Tournament play.
And the Blue Devils won the only regular-season meeting 61-50 in Tallahassee on Feb. 22.
Duke prevails again but has to work very hard to get it done, advancing to the title game with a 72-66 win.
The Blue Devils get out quickly, going up 13-8 by the 14:19 mark with Haley Peters — who scored five points in Friday’s quarterfinal win over N.C. State — getting the last nine of those points.
But the Seminoles don’t fold, as Duke never gets a double-digit lead.
It’s just 34-31 at halftime. Duke doesn’t take the lead for good until Peters’ layup with 4:06 left makes it 60-58.
Tricia Liston goes 6-for-6 at the free-throw line, hitting each of two pairs in the final minute — sandwiched around two from Elizabeth Williams — to prevent the Seminoles from getting closer than six.
Peters finishes with 17 points and 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season, while Liston also has 17 points. Alexis Jones adds 12 and Elizabeth Williams 11.
Chelsea Davis leads FSU with 17 points while Alexa Deluzio and Natasha Howard chip in 13 each.
Duke shoots 46 percent from the floor to FSU’s 37.9 and wins the rebound battle 43-32. The Blue Devils commit 17 turnovers to the Seminoles’ 12.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “I thought it was a great basketball game. It was very physical and exciting. Florida State is an excellent team. They had a lot of different players we had to slow down, and we did that at critical junctures. Both Haley and Tricia were fantastic that way in terms of moving the basketball, taking care of it and getting it in the right places as well as attacking (the basket) themselves.”
FSU coach Sue Semrau: “What a battle that was! We’re a little bit more slight in stature than some of the teams in the ACC. (But) credit Duke and their strength. They have great strength. And when you have the ability to use that, and they do, I would use that too. It’s a great advantage.”
Peters: “We moved the ball really well coming out of the gates and we pushed the ball down the floor well. We were cutting and moving well. The way we moved the ball at the beginning of the game I got some open looks and some putbacks. I just don’t worry about what’s gone on in past games. We got a chance to play again today, so what happened in the past wasn’t really in my mind at all.”
Liston: “My teammates do a great job of driving and creating a lot of attention for a kick-out. “Then it just came down to knocking down the shots. I feel comfortable handling the ball and going to the line to knock down free throws. I take pride in my free throws and we practice them a lot. I don’t mind going to the free-throw line. I enjoy it and I’d like to keep producing.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke gets a chance for an ACC title after exiting in its first game last season, and that FSU is playing well heading into a sure NCAA bid.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Jones’ breakaway layup from Williams with 2:11 left to make it 66-60.
Duke: Won 3.
FSU: Lost 1.
Duke leads 35-8.
Duke vs. UNC, Sunday, 2 p.m.
FSU in NCAA Tournament