No. 5 Duke 75, No. 8 Maryland 59

Missing its best player, Duke didn’t skip a beat in a
surprisingly easy victory over a ranked conference foe.

Elizabeth Williams scored 16 points and the No. 5 Blue Devils
shook off the absence of injured point guard Chelsea Gray to beat
No. 8 Maryland 75-59 on Sunday, clinching its fourth straight
Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title.

”It certainly is an honor to be the regular season champion,”
said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. ”I think that’s the hardest
one to win because it says a team has gone through a season –
again, with injury or other things happening – and really been
consistent. I think that’s really a special thing for our
team.”

Alexis Jones, Haley Peters and Tricia Liston each added 15
points for the Blue Devils (26-1, 16-0), who won their 10th
straight game and completed a season sweep against the Terrapins
(22-5, 13-3).

Duke improved to 6-1 against ranked opponents and more than made
up for the absence of Gray.

The Blue Devils won their second straight game without Gray, the
All-American who sustained a season-ending dislocated right kneecap
Feb. 17 against Wake Forest. The win gave the Blue devils a 40-39
advantage in the all-time series.

”This team has really grown tough and resilient,” said
McCallie.

In the middle of Sunday’s victory was Jones, a freshman called
upon to fill in for Gray whose point total represented a career
high.

”I wouldn’t say (it was) a coming-out party,” Jones said.
”I’ve been really humbled and just learning from the juniors. …
Just take the role of listening to them and also feeding off my
energy.”

McCallie said Jones ”went to another level” against the
Terrapins, scoring 13 second-half points.

”To have a freshman point guard come into this environment …
and do what she did is almost unheard of, really,” the coach
said.

Tianna Hawkins had 16 points and nine rebounds for Maryland,
which had won three consecutive games since a 71-56 loss at Duke on
Feb. 11. Alyssa Thomas added 14 points.

The Terrapins, who shot 34.8 percent from 3-point range entering
the game, were 3 for 18 from beyond the arc.

Four Blue Devils scored during a 9-0 run midway through the
first half, when Maryland went cold from the floor, failing to
score in more than 6 1/2 minutes.

”We can’t have the lapses that we had this game,” Hawkins
said, adding that the Terrapins weren’t physical enough during that
stretch. ”We have to give maximum effort.”

Liston had 10 first-half points and Duke led 37-25 at
halftime.

What began as an up-tempo defensive struggle turned quickly
after a baseline jumper by Hawkins put Maryland up 11-10 with 15:26
remaining in the first half.

Richa Jackson’s basket started the Blue Devils on a 9-0 burst,
as the Terps missed their next six shots from the floor and
committed three turnovers before Thomas’ jumper halted the run.

Peters nailed a 3-pointer, Williams dropped in a running
right-side bank shot and Allison Vernerey followed up her own miss
to conclude the decisive burst for a 19-11 Duke lead.

Maryland finished the opening 20 minutes 12 of 31 (38.7 percent)
from the field, including 0 for 9 from beyond the arc, and trailed
by as many as 14 points.

”They made it really difficult for us to get easy looks,”
Thomas said.

Hawkins scored eight of the Terrapins’ first 10 points in the
second half, with the teams swapping scores early on. Maryland
twice got within eight points in the second half, but could not
rally.