by Mike Potter
The Blue Devils no longer have a natural point guard on scholarship.
Alexis Jones joined Chelsea Gray with an ACL injury during Sunday’s game at Notre Dame.
And Chloe Wells, who is missing her 10th game after suffering a bruised shin, is not introduced in pregame ceremonies along with Gray, Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Richa Jackson.
Amber Henson will make her first career start tonight for the No. 7 Blue Devils (24-4, 11-3 ACC), who look for their 40th straight win over Wake Forest. The 39 is the fourth longest such streak in NCAA Division I. The Deacons have a nice team, but are 14-13 and 5-9 against a very tough ACC field.
Tonight the Blue Devils have to grind it out, but they survive a 71-56 decision to clinch the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament.
Duke leads 33-28 at the break behind 11 points from Peters and 10 from Jackson. Chelsea Douglas has 11 at the break for Wake.
Duke shoots 53.8 percent to the Deacons’ 32.1 over the first 20 minutes, pulling down 20 rebounds to Wake’s 14.
The Blue Devils never threaten to turn it into a blowout, but finally make it a three-possession game on Liston’s 3-pointer with 1:40 to go.
Peters finishes with a season-high 22 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists. Jackson added 15, followed by 10 each from Elizabeth Williams and Liston and 12 rebounds with nine points from freshman Oderah Chidom.
Dearica Hamby leads the Deacons with 20 points in 40 minutes, while Douglas chips in 19 points.
Duke shoots 56.0 percent to the Deacons’ 33.3 and wins the rebound battle 40-28, but commits 17 turnovers to Wake’s 12.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “I really locked our energy more in the second half. I thought the team just really picked up, made some great hustle plays. It was a good, strong defensive game for us overall. … It was a super effort by everybody. I thought Haley Peters was fantastic, not only in our defensive schemes but attacking off the press and just being really, really aggressive. And Richa played with a lot of composure, moved the ball, also found people and had a terrific game.”
Wake coach Jen Hoover: “Obviously we are disappointed with the outcome. We were really excited about the opportunity to come in here. We played really well here last year. We came in very confident. I thought we were going to be really aggressive. I was really proud of our kids. (Duke is) a very good basketball team that has faced a lot of adversity.”
Peters: “I think that throughout the game we were finding more and more about who we are, and by the end of it we played to a little bit of how good we could be today. We’re just trying to figure some things out with what we have gone through, but we know there is so much more there for us to do. It was good to play that game and get a good win, but we still have so much that we can do.”
Jackson: “I’m just taking advantage of opportunities that were given to me. I just try to keep working hard and staying positive. I know Coach P always believed in me so I knew eventually I would have a chance to step up.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke will take the No. 2 seed into the ACC Tournament. And that the Deacons need to beat Syracuse on Sunday to assure themselves a WNIT berth.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Liston’s 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining.
Duke: Won 1.
Wake: Lost 3.
Duke leads 58-16.
Duke at UNC, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Wake Forest vs. Syracuse, Sunday, 2 p.m.