by Mike Potter
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM It’s the opening night of conference play in ACC women’s basketball, and the preseason rankings say this is a marquee matchup.
Duke has won a ridiculous 34 straight in the series, the sixth longest such streak between conference foes in NCAA Division I. (Duke’s 37-game streak against Wake Forest is No. 5.)
The Blue Devils will play short again tonight, as center Allison Vernerey (elbow) will miss the contest as will wing Richa Jackson (knee).
Duke has little trouble extending that streak to 35, leading from wire to wire in an 85-52 romp.
Duke leads 41-27 at the break behind 12 points from Elizabeth Williams and 11 from Haley Peters. Tyaunna Marshall has 12 at halftime for the Yellow Jackets.
The Blue Devils shoot 50 percent in the first half to Tech’s 31.7.
Williams leads Duke with a career-high 25 points and 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season and chips in six blocks. Chelsea Gray has 13 points, six steals and five assists, while Tricia Liston adds 13 points. Peters scores 11 with 11 rebounds for her second career double-double. Ka’lia Johnson adds nine points to her career-high 11 rebounds.
Marshall is the only Tech player in double figures, pouring in 23 points.
Duke shoots 46.7 percent to the Jackets’ 28.6, outrebounds Tech 55-44 and commits 19 turnovers to the visitors’ 22.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “It was just a great defensive game for us — two halves of great defense. A lot of hustle with some very, very good rebounding. We’re trying to work toward what we’re trying to get to. When we have three players with 11 rebounds that’s the general idea — trying to be aggressive from all spots. I thought Haley and Elizabeth were tremendous because they played a lot of minutes.”
Tech coach MaChelle Joseph: “I think you saw why Duke is the No. 1 team in the ACC and one of the top teams in the country. They have so many weapons, they’re so balanced offensively and can do so many things on the offensive end of the floor. I was really proud of my team. We’re very young and we’ve got a really tough schedule. … I’m not sure we’re going to see anything tougher than what we’ve seen the past week throughout the course of the season.”
Williams: “It really feels good to be back (after a nagging knee injury). I’m feeling good. It was nice to play well and it was nice to see everybody around me play well. … Haley and I were talking about who was going to get more rebounds, and it was nice to dominate in the post today.”
Peters: “I think we’ve all known for a while that the sky is the limit for our team. There have been times on the court — it’s probably not good to say this — but I will just watch what Chelsea does, what Trish does, what [Alexis] does because it’s so fun to see how good we all together. … It felt like we were making plays together as a group and that we were all on the same page with a lot of stuff. I think defensively, our presses were good and it felt good. It’s fun to watch our team play.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke is good enough and deep enough to dismantle an above-average ACC team.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Williams’ layup from Gray to make it 10-4 with 16:51 left in the first.
Duke: Won 7.
Ga. Tech: Lost 3.
Duke leads 57-7.
Duke at St. John’s, Sunday, 1:30 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. Alcorn State, Dec. 16, 2 p.m.