by Mike Potter
Sophomore guard Chloe Wells is out of school this semester with an academic situation, while highly touted freshman forward Amber Henson, who never was really able to show what she could so, is out for the season following knee surgery.
Still the No. 7 Blue Devils (11-2, 3-0) are in very good shape, hosting a Seminoles team (10-7, 2-1) that lost its way in November but seems to have righted the ship.
Duke has won 32 straight home games and 24 straight at home against ACC foes.
Duke grinds one out this time, getting by a scrappy FSU effort in a 73-66 win.
Duke never really gets a big lead, trailing early in the first half before going up for good on an Allison Vernerey layup that makes it 10-8 with 14:57 left in the period.
Duke leads 35-29 at halftime behind 13 points from Liston. FSU shoots 50 percent in the first half to 38.2 for Duke, which commits 10 turnovers over the period to the Seminoles’ 16.
The Blue Devils never trail in the second half, stretching the lead to 73-59 on a Richa Jackson 3-pointer with 2:48 to go before the Seminoles close the gap late.
Liston finishes with 20 points, tying her career high of eight field goals, while freshman center Elizabeth Williams adds 18 points and eight rebounds and Chelsea Gray adds 11 points.
Natasha Howard leads FSU with 17 points while Cierra Bravard adds 16, Chasity Clayton 15 and Chelsea Davis 10.
Duke shoots 45.6 percent from the floor to 51.9 for the Seminoles, while each team finishes with 34 rebounds. FSU commits 25 turnovers to Duke’s 15.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was a hard-fought game, just what you’d expect. I thought Florida State played very, very well — based on the films that’s the best they’ve played this year. They shot a great percentage and their go-to players performed. … Tricia is a heady player. She’s pretty opportunistic and I think that, again, she just does a great job looking for opportunities that might present themselves. Also, Chelsea looks for her pretty well and they play off each other well.”
Florida State coach Sue Semrau: “It was a heck of a basketball game. I thought both teams really fought. We turned the ball over a little bit too much, and that’s been something we’ve wrestled with. But my team’s coming a long way and I thought Duke did a good job of hitting the big shots early and finding (Williams) on the interior. When we took some chances, they did a good job of finding her with the second and third look.”
Liston: “They were focusing a lot on (Williams) inside, and once we got it in we were kicking it back out and kind of moving the ball around. “My teammates were finding me in open spots and I was getting really good looks, and I converted. If you have the presence inside and outside (the defenders) have to choose what they want to do. Do they want to double inside and give up the outside shot, or do they want to let (Williams) go one-on-one with someone? She kind of opens it up for everybody.”
Williams: “I think I did well at times. Defensively, I made a lot of mistakes there. There were a couple of times where I was pinned, and obviously if I get pinned behind (center Bravard) it’s an easy bucket. She still scored too many points. I could have done a better job.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke can grind out a win against a decent ACC opponent having a good night, and that the Seminoles appear to be heading in the right direction.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Liston’s three-point play on a half-court pass from Gray to give Duke its first lead at 8-6.
Duke: Won 7.
FSU: Lost 1.
Duke leads 32-8.
Duke at Virginia Tech, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Florida State at Miami, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.