DURHAM — Tricia Liston found a great way to celebrate her 22nd birthday on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Duke’s senior guard paced a balanced scoring effort with 24 points and seven rebounds, leading the No. 7 Blue Devils to an 83-70 women’s basketball victory over No. 14 N.C. State in the teams’ only meeting of the regular season.
The win improved Duke to 24-3 overall and 11-2 in ACC play while the Wolfpack fell to 22-5 and 9-4.
It was Duke’s ninth win in the last 10 meetings with the Wolfpack, which last won in Durham on Feb. 2, 1996.
The Blue Devils won despite a career-high 30 points including six 3-pointers with seven rebounds from N.C. State’s senior forward Kody Burke.
N.C. may have lost more than just the game. Senior guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman had to be helped off the court with what appeared to be an extremely painful left knee with 7 minutes, 33 seconds left in the game.
Haley Peters added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils, her fifth double-double of the season. Alexis Jones and Richa Jackson added 12 points each for Duke, which got 10 rebounds with nine points from Elizabeth Williams.
“That was a great game,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Exactly what we need – the idea of playing a quality opponent, the idea of a hot shooter (Burke) again that we lost and didn’t find, and the idea of making incredible plays on our end.
“Tricia was always attacking and threatening, on her birthday, which is nice. The seven rebounds are important because we need to get at least three or four rebounders.”
Markeisha Gatling added 16 points and eight rebounds for N.C. State, which also got 14 points from freshman guard Miah Spencer off the bench.
The 6-foot-2 Burke and 6-5 Gatling were N.C. State’s only starters to score in the first half.
“I’m proud of the comeback and I’m proud of the effort in the second half,” said N.C. State’scoach Wes Moore, whose team was picked to finish 10th in the conference but is tied for third with three games left in the regular season. “But we’re playing in the best conference in the country and playing against a team ranked seventh in the nation on their home court.
“You’ve got to play 40 minutes. (Duke) came out with more energy and more aggression. The second half was better and Kody was a big part of that, the way she shot the ball. We’ve just got to realize we’ve got to be ready when they tip it off and play to the final horn.”
Duke shot 44.4 percent to the Wolfpack’s 35.7 and won the rebound battle 43-37.
Duke never trailed, although what looked like a sure blowout midway through the second half turned into a near nail-biter before the Blue Devils righted the ship down the stretch.
The Blue Devils were up 40-27 at the break, stretching their lead to 59-35 on Liston’s 3-pointer with 14:32 left.
“I think all of our guards had a size advantage,” Liston said. “So we were able to do some other things like that. But with Alexis’ quickness there was a lot of collapsing on the ball and stuff like that helped our guard play.
“I think this is only the first or second time I’ve played on my birthday. It’s a good birthday present.”
But the Wolfpack went on a 28-8 run, cutting the margin to 67-63 and 70-66 on a couple of 3-pointers by Burke before five straight points from Peters got Duke some breathing room.
“Coach Moore said that when you’re in a slump it kind of inspires you to give more energy,” Burke said. “I was trying to translate that offensively because the team wasn’t going. It was a good night for me as far as shooting the ball because I was in a slump the last almost four or five games. But I was hoping it would translate to a ‘W.’ ”
Duke’s next game is on Sunday at 1 p.m. at No. 2 Notre Dame. N.C. State hosts Virginia on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Reynolds Coliseum.