by Mike Potter
The Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2 ACC) has dropped its first two conference games and will be a heavy underdog against the No. 7 Blue Devils (11-2, 2-0).
Kellie Harper’s club gave Duke a really good scare last season in Raleigh, leading by as 20 points before Chelsea Gray’s layup in the closing seconds gave Duke a 65-64 victory. But State’s last visit to Cameron in 2009 resulted in a 70-39 Duke blowout.
This time the Wolfpack puts up a good fight in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 6,172, trailing by only six with 6 ½ minutes left before Duke explodes late in an 83-59 win. It’s Duke’s 32nd straight home-court victory and 24th straight home-court win over an ACC foe.
Duke appears headed for a blowout early, leading 28-11 following an Allison Vernerey layup with 9:14 left in the half.
The Blue Devils take it to 56-41 on Gray’s layup off a perfect long pass over everybody from Tricia Liston with 11:14 left.
State keeps coming, cutting it to 60-54 on a Lakeesa Daniel layup with 7:34 to go. But the Blue Devils respond with nine straight points including a 3-pointer from Liston at 4:48 to take control for good.
Duke places five players in double figures.
Richa Jackson’s 21 points are a career high, while Liston adds 14 points and 11 rebounds for her first career double-double. Vernerey adds 13 points off the bench, followed by 12 each from Gray and Haley Peters.
Marissa Kastanek leads the Wolfpack with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Bonae Holston also hits 12 points and Kody Burke 10.
Duke shoots 46.9 percent from the floor to State’s 37.9, wins the rebound battle 38-34 and commits 15 turnovers to State’s 24. The Blue Devils can 20 of 22 free-throw attempts.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was just a great team effort, a lot of different people stepping up in the game, and maybe a more aggressive attack in the second half. I thought Haley was very steady for us, very composed and just doing a lot of good things on the floor, rebounding and scoring. Same for Richa. She was always in attack mode.”
State coach Kellie Harper: “We knew this was going to be a tough, physical game. We knew that our defensive effort was going to be huge, and unfortunately if you give up 83 points to (Duke) you’re not going to win. They’re just too tough on the defensive end. … Hopefully our mental state will be all right through this tough stretch of the schedule and we’ll improve through the rest of the season.”
Jackson: “I feel like my coaches are telling me what to do for a reason. They believe in me. They think I have so much potential, so I just listen to them. I know I can do it.”
Kastanek: “We’re really positive now. We’ve come together. We’ve decided what we want for the season instead of just playing without a goal in mind. … Like (Harper) said, we’re not happy-go-lucky in the locker room right now. We’re going to watch film as soon as we can, recognize what we did well and what we did wrong.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke keeps rolling on and should be knocking on the door of the top five soon.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Liston’s 3-pointer to make it 69-54 with 4:49 to go.
State vs. Boston College, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Duke vs. Florida State, Friday, 7 p.m.