No. 8 Duke 79, Wake Forest 50
None of Duke's starters reached double figures in scoring. Neither did any of the older Blue Devils.
They didn't need to - not with the freshmen shooting like this.
Richa Jackson scored a season-high 15 points, one of three freshmen with at least 10 points in No. 8 Duke's 79-50 victory over Wake Forest in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Friday.
Haley Peters added 11 points and Chelsea Gray finished with 10 for the top-seeded Blue Devils (27-3).
''We talk all the time about going 11 for 11,'' said Peters, referring to the 11 players on the Duke roster. ''Everybody needs to produce and just have a lot of energy and play hard and put everything out there. We did that.''
The Blue Devils shot nearly 51 percent and hit half of their 3-pointers to win their fourth straight, opening the defense of their ACC tournament title by beating Wake Forest for the 35th straight time.
''They're 27-3. It's not like they beat us 26 times and somebody else once,'' Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen said. ''Their kids play hard, they're deep, they've got a lot of pieces. Today, they just shot it. ... There's no question it's a benefit to be deep and talented like that and then play as hard and as together as they do.''
The Blue Devils used two huge runs to build an early lead, then came up with another overwhelming burst to pull away down the stretch and advance to a semifinal matchup against fifth-seeded Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Sandra Garcia scored 19 points to lead the Demon Deacons (15-17), and she pulled them within 12 when she hit a 3-pointer with 11 1/2 minutes remaining.
Duke then reeled off 10 straight points as part of a 19-4 run, with Gray hitting a pair of 3s to start the spurt and Chloe Wells hitting from long range to push it to 66-39 with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Gray, a regular starter who was limited to eight total minutes in Duke's last three games with a sprained left ankle, came off the bench and had a perfect shooting day. Playing in her first career ACC tournament game, she hit all three of her attempts from the field, both of her 3-pointers and two free throws in 14 minutes.
''Throughout the season, we've prepared for these type of games and the upperclassmen just prepared us for what we were going to expect,'' Gray said.
Brittany Waters added 11 points for Wake Forest, which shot 32 percent and had early scoring droughts of 4 1/2 and 6 1/2 minutes.
''We just didn't make enough shots. You can overanalyze the thing all you want,'' Petersen said. ''I know this sounds like a cop-out, but it's a make-miss game. (Duke) made shots, they did a good job, they hit shots when they were open.''
The Demon Deacons haven't beaten the Blue Devils since the 1993 ACC tournament, and last month lost to them by 43 points.
This rematch wasn't much closer.
Jasmine Thomas capped both of Duke's early runs with key baskets - and gave the Blue Devils a scare when she briefly went down with a hyperextended left knee.
The ACC's preseason player of the year swished a 3-pointer from the corner 5 1/2 minutes in to finish a 12-0 spurt. In doing so, she stumbled over teammate Shay Selby - who had fallen while screening Garcia. Thomas crumpled to the floor and laid on the court in obvious pain for a few moments before she was helped off the court and headed to the locker room.
''Initially, it hurt pretty bad, but I had started to feel it loosen up and I knew that I could get up and walk,'' Thomas said.
She returned to the bench at the 10 1/2-minute mark with her left knee wrapped in a bandage, returned to the game with 8:34 left and almost immediately showed she hadn't lost a step. Her steal and layup with 6 minutes before the break closed an 18-3 burst that gave Duke its largest lead of the half at 30-11.