Vernerey has career game, Williams very healthy as Duke rolls

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CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke takes the floor for its second game of the season 19 hours after the tipoff of its first game.

Duke center Allison Vernerey
It’s a situation they’ll face again Dec. 21 and 22 when they take on Cal State-Bakersfield and then Southern California in Los Angeles, and could also see in the ACC Tournament.

The foe is MAAC member Iona, which is 2-1 after losing by nine at a good North Carolina A&T team Friday night. Duke is coming off a 49-point victory over Presbyterian.

The Blue Devils still face injury questions, especially with superstar center Elizabeth Williams who has been recovering from a stress fracture in her right leg since the NCAA Tournament in March. Williams played 11 minutes against the Blue Hose.

Also probably close to recovery is Richa Jackson, who is recovering from a knee injury and warmed up against Presbyterian as well as today.

Again it’s not close, as the Blue Devils roll 100-31 to tie their biggest victory margin since the 117-28 annihilation of N.C. Central on Dec. 28, 2009.

Williams takes the floor with 11:15 left in the first half and the Blue Devils leading 24-8.

Allison Vernerey earns a rare distinction in the first half, scoring 20 points as the Blue Devils lead 57-18 going into the locker room.

Duke shoots 60 percent in the first half to Iona’s 20, leads the rebound battle 31-13 and commits only three turnovers to the Gaels’ eight over the period.

Tricia Liston gets the 100th point on a 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining.

Vernerey ties her career high with 22 points to lead five Blue Devils in double figures. Chelsea Gray adds 18 points, followed by Williams with 16 points in 18 minutes, Liston with 12 and Haley Peters 11.

Joy Adams has six points to go with 10 rebounds for the Gaels.

Duke shoots 48.7 percent to Iona’s 17.2, pulls down 56 rebounds to the Gaels’ 37 and commits eight turnovers to the visitors’ 27.

They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was just a great all-around game for everybody. It was wonderful to see Alli be so dominant on the block. Her shooting percentage, demanding the ball and having her teammates get her the ball too. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen. And I really appreciate Chelsea’s game — very consistent and steady. Rebounding, assists, no turnovers — just really running things and commanding. … I’m HAPPY with Elizabeth, bold, all caps. Really, really happy to see her have some fun out there, and she was bouncing which is a good sign when you’re taking about injuries.”

Iona coach Anthony Bozzella: “(Duke) was very good, and we struggled with their length and their athleticism. But I really think through the second half, especially, we really moved the ball a lot. (Duke’s) length is go good because they move the ball so well. Obviously when Elizabeth gets fully healthy it will make their defense only better, because she blocks everything.”

Vernerey: “I think we got into a good rhythm right away. We always try to look inside right away, and whoever gets to the block first is who we’re looking for. I thought that was great — we had some good inside-out looks and it kind of got us going.”

Gray: “I think (passing) just happens naturally for me. It just goes with the flow and the rhythm of the game. If I see that it needs to be done, then I’ll do it.”

What does it all mean?
That Duke is capable of recovering quickly for an easy win against a less-talented opponent.

Stars of the game
1. Vernerey.
2. Williams.
3. Gray.

Play of the game

Vernerey’s layup on Gray’s behind-the-head pass to make it 13-5 with 15:01 left in the first half.

Streaks
Duke: Won 2.
Iona: Lost 2.

Series

Duke leads 1-0.

Up next
Iona at St. John’s, Wednesday, 2 p.m.
Duke vs. Valparaiso, Friday, 7 p.m.

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