by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke comes off a nine-day layoff for its only game in a 19-day period as UNC Wilmington comes for its first visit in 19 years.
UNCW (5-4), which has won three straight games, is in its second season under Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, a legendary player for the WNBA’s Houston Comets who was the first inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame solely on the strength of her pro playing career.
It turns out to be the Blue Devils’ night, as Duke rolls to a 107-45 win.
UNCW keeps it close for a few minutes, trailing 17-10 on a Jessica Freeman layup at 11:40. But the Blue Devils score nine straight points over the next 1:28, stretch the lead to 55-22 at halftime and never look back.
Allison Vernerey leads the way with a career-high 22 points followed by Tricia Liston with 18 points, both off the bench. Elizabeth Williams scores 16 points, Chelsea Gray 14 points with 10 assists, and Chloe Wells with 11.
Abria Trice has 12 points to lead UNCW, while Tawanna Lee chips in 11.
Duke shoots 57.1 percent from the floor to the Seahawks’ 35.6, wins the rebound battle 41-24 and forces 40 turnovers while committing 14. Duke finishes with 36 assists to tie the school record.
The 107 points are the most ever scored against the Seahawks.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “I liked the aggressive attack for two halves, everybody getting after it. I appreciated Allison’s focus and leadership. I thought she was fantastic in things we were doing with our defense, and I thought Tricia was just great as well off the bench, very focused and very attacking. … We’ve been doing a lot of things on and off the court. They’ve been focused on finals, but they certainly didn’t take it as one. I thought we were very focused.”
Cooper-Dyke: “We got outplayed today by a very, very good team. We didn’t play well, we didn’t rebound well, we didn’t shoot well and so we lost by a lot. We got outplayed in every part of the game. Forty turnovers is unacceptable. We just never showed up.”
Vernerey: “It was a good night tonight. The energy was really high, which I was able to feed off, and it really helped me keep going. It was a good group effort.”
Liston: “I thought our passing was awesome. The stats say that, too. But I think we were finding each other where we needed to be. We weren’t putting each other in rough spots with the ball.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke had no trouble playing a solid game after the nine-day layoff.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Richa Jackson’s layup off a Wells steal to make it 57-22 with 19:41 to go.
UNC Wilmington vs. Xavier, Dec. 29, 7 p.m.
Duke at Temple, Dec. 30, 7 p.m.