by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke takes the floor for the first time in 2012 on a very big night for ACC women’s basketball in the Triangle.
The No. 7 Blue Devils (9-2) will take on a very good team from Virginia (12-2) in the conference opener for both. The Cavaliers are in their first season under Joanne Boyle, a former Blue Devil player and assistant coach.
Duke has had some personnel issues in the backcourt over the past month, with Shay Selby going on an indefinite suspension for a violation of team rules and then returning for Friday’s game at Temple (DNP-CD). That was the first game missed by fellow point guard Chloe Wells, who is out of the lineup while she resolves an academic issue. Wells is on the bench in a team polo shirt and warmup pants keeping a chart on a clipboard.
Two of Duke’s three freshman recruits from the nation’s top incoming class are from Virginia, leading scorer Elizabeth Williams (Virginia Beach) and guard Ka’lia Johnson (Chester).
The Wahoos put up a good fight, but Duke pulls away in the second half to win 77-66 and beat Virginia for the 19th straight time.
The Blue Devils lead 35-32 at the half, shooting 58.3 percent to the visitors 45.8 and despite getting no points from Williams (who finishes with eight).
It’s 41-37 Duke when Ataira Franklin knocks down a 3-pointer for the Cavaliers with 17:40 to go, but the Blue Devils score the next 10 — five from Richa Jackson — and never again lead by fewer than six.
Tricia Liston leads Duke with 18 points and a career-best seven rebounds followed by Haley Peters with 13 points, Jackson with 12 and Chelsea Gray 11 with eight assists.
Franklin leads Virginia with 19 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 1:49 left, while Ariana Moorer chips in 18 including 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.
Duke shoots 56.3 percent to 39.3 for the Cavaliers, outrebounding them 31-30 and committing 25 turnovers to Virginia’s 21.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “(Tricia) is a point-four. She can play one, two, three of four for us. She’s a heady passer and kind of feels the defense a little bit. … I really liked our team’s attack. Shooting 56 percent against an ACC opponent is pretty outstanding, and we might have been able to put a whole lot more points on the board if we hadn’t turned the ball over so much.”
Virginia coach Joanne Boyle : “We were active in our zone and didn’t give them a lot of touches. We were doing a good job of getting loose balls and tips and steals, which we didn’t necessarily convert in transition. … I spent 20 years of my life here and all my best friends are here. (Duke) is just a great place, I love it. I’m on the other end coaching another team now, but I have nothing but good things to say about Duke.”
Liston: “I think we were finding people in open positions. We were pushing it, looking for the fast-break points and we were getting that. Once we started getting in the flow, everything started clicking.”
Peters: “It’s really fun when you start playing like that. I think when you’re playing against a zone it’s easy to sit back a little. But when we start getting stops and running a little bit, (good) things start to happen.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke’s momentum is going strong, and that Virginia will be a scary opponent around the ACC.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Williams’ layup from Gray to make it 39-32 with 18:30 to go.
Virginia vs. UNC, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Duke at Wake Forest, Friday, 6:30 p.m.