Wake loses 40th straight to No. 7 Duke, 71-56

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Wake Forest thought it had the formula - and the confidence - to end one of the nation's longest in-conference losing streaks.

But the Demon Deacons simply didn't have enough shot-makers to finally beat Duke.

ACC scoring leader Dearica Hamby had 20 points but No. 7 Duke beat Wake Forest for the 40th straight time, 71-56 on Thursday night.

Chelsea Douglas finished with 19 for the Demon Deacons (14-14, 5-10), who haven't beaten Duke since the 1993 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament - matching the third-longest streak of futility among Division I teams in the same conference.

Wake Forest shot 33 percent and allowed a long, injury-depleted Duke team playing without a true point guard to shoot 56 percent and build a 40-28 advantage on the boards.

''We talked about how they were going to be one of the biggest teams on the floor,'' coach Jen Hoover said. ''They didn't have anybody that could guard the quickness (of Wake Forest). ... We really never got that second shooter going, and I thought it really affected us.''

Haley Peters scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Blue Devils, Richa Jackson added 15 and Tricia Liston scored 10 with a critical 3-pointer late.

''I think it says a tremendous amount,'' coach Joanne P. McCallie said. ''They've all grown.''

This wasn't their Cameron farewell, though - they'll be back in a few weeks for the NCAA tournament subregional that Duke is hosting.

Playing its first full game without injured point guard Alexis Jones, Duke (25-4, 12-3) locked up the No. 2 seed for next week's ACC tournament and avoided its first losing streak since 2007-08.

''Throughout the game, we were just finding out more about who we are now,'' Peters said, referring to the team's new, taller look. ''By the end of it ... I think we played to a little bit of how good we can be. ... We know that there's so much more there for us to do.''

Wake Forest had the ball down 59-54 twice in the last 4 1/2 minutes but came up empty on both trips, with Hamby missing a contested layup with about 4 minutes left and Kelila Atkinson missing a 3 about a minute later.

Elizabeth Williams then gave Duke some breathing room with a layup with 2 1/2 minutes to play and Liston followed with a 3 on the next possession to make it 64-56 and effectively end it.

''She's so automatic when she gets an open look,'' Hoover said.

Williams finished with 10 points and freshman Oderah Chidom had 12 rebounds for Duke, which had 42 points in the paint to Wake Forest's 22.

''We're just so long now, with all of our defenses, we can bother shooters without really running out at them and opening up the middle of our defense,'' Peters said. ''It's going to be hard for people to play against how long we are now.''

That the Blue Devils' bigger players had to play a bigger role in this one wasn't much of a surprise - mostly because they're pretty much out of smaller players.

That's because Jones, a 13-point scorer and the Blue Devils' offensive catalyst, suffered a season-ending tear of her left anterior cruciate ligament four days earlier in a loss at No. 2 Notre Dame. That injury left them with no healthy point guards on the roster.

They've also been playing for the past 1 1/2 months without point guard Chelsea Gray, an ACC co-player of the year whose college career ended with a broken kneecap. Coincidentally, when she went down as a junior last year with a dislocated kneecap, her primary replacement was Jones.

Not surprisingly, the Blue Devils had trouble generating separation until the closing moments - when they finally appeared to get comfortable playing their new style.

Wake Forest kept itself within striking distance nearly all night, never falling behind by more than 13 until the final minute. Peters hit a jumper with just over 6 minutes left made it 59-46 before the Demon Deacons made their final rally.

Douglas and Hamby hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, with Hamby's pulling them within five with just under 5 minutes remaining.


Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

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