No. 5 Duke 81, Wake Forest 70

Duke was stuck in a surprisingly tight game with the one team it

always beats, and the player capable of single-handedly saving the

Blue Devils had just dislocated her knee.

That left it up to Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams to find

a way to keep No. 5 Duke rolling.

Liston scored a career-high 29 points with five 3-pointers and

the Blue Devils pulled away to beat Wake Forest 81-70 on Sunday

after losing star Chelsea Gray to a knee injury.

”I thought it was a huge test of our team’s resilience,” coach

Joanne P. McCallie said. ”We passed it with flying colors,

relative to their competitive nature and execution and the

leadership that the team needed.”

Haley Peters added 13 for Duke (24-1, 14-0 Atlantic Coast

Conference). After Gray went down in the first half, they had

trouble putting away a Wake Forest team they beat by 29 points last

month and led by 13 with 15 1/2 minutes to go.

McCallie said the dislocation Gray suffered in the knee will

keep her out for the rest of the regular season, and an MRI is

scheduled for Monday. If there are no ligament tears, it’s possible

Gray could return for the postseason.

”The best thing we could hope for is a dislocation which would

allow her to come back in a period of time,” McCallie said.

The Blue Devils found a way to win this one without their

inspirational leader who was hurt with 8:07 left in the first half

when she collapsed to the court clutching her right knee. Her

screams were clearly audible throughout an otherwise silent

arena.

She was helped off the floor and didn’t appear to be putting any

weight on that leg, and she watched the second half from the bench

with a brace on her knee.

”In the timeouts, I’d walk over there before I’d go out (on the

court) and she would tell me something I needed to do or look for

on the court,” Liston said. ”Everybody felt her presence in the

game . being as strong as she was today was a huge thing for our

team.”

Chelsea Douglas scored a career-high 24 points with five 3s for

the Demon Deacons (11-15, 4-10), and Lakevia Boykin tied it at 67

with a 3 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

Williams hit two free throws with 3:07 left. Liston followed

that with a 3 and two foul shots to make it 74-67 and put the Blue

Devils on their way to their 39th straight victory in the

series.

Williams finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting for Duke,

which won its eighth straight overall and 37th straight at Cameron

Indoor Stadium against ACC teams.

”Without question, the team needed some calm out there,

relative to some of the shots they were making and people adjusting

and us adjusting to playing without a point guard who does an awful

lot for our team,” McCallie said.

Boykin had 17 points with three 3s while Sandra Garcia had 10

points and 10 rebounds and Dearica Hamby added 10 points for Wake

Forest, which was denied the biggest victory in school history and

its first victory over Duke since the 1993 ACC tournament. The

Demon Deacons, who shot nearly 56 percent in the second half, lost

their eighth in 10 games.

”This group has been understanding how well we can play when we

do play well together and feed off each other,” coach Jen Hoover

said. ”I think the mentality of this group is that we can compete

and play with anybody.”

In Gray’s absence, Peters and Liston appeared to have put the

Blue Devils on their way to yet another comfortable win over Wake

Forest. Her 3 barely a minute into the second half put Duke up

43-30.

But a Demon Deacons team that trimmed a 20-point deficit to

three nine days earlier against No. 7 Maryland had another rally in

it, and this one was almost entirely the work of Douglas.

She scored 11 points during a 16-3 run that erased that 13-point

deficit. She tied it at 52 with a 3 with 11 minutes left, and Wake

Forest – which ranks 328th nationally in scoring defense – held the

Blue Devils without a field goal for 5 1/2 minutes while clawing

back in it.

That mirrored their strong start, when they opened with a 15-4

run that gave Duke its largest deficit at home this season. That

burst was capped by – who else? – Douglas, who swished a 3 out of a

timeout to end the run just over 5 minutes in.

”We can score. Our offense is not the problem,” Douglas said.

”It is just that we are inconsistent on the defensive end.”