Duke women advance to ACC semifinals with 82-52 win over Georgia Tech

CorrespondentMarch 7, 2014 

— Duke has had more than its share of challenges this season, losing its top three point guards to injuries along the way.

Lesser teams might have turned to dust, but the Blue Devils have done anything but.

In the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum, the No.  2 seed Blue Devils put on a clinic at both ends of the floor, routing a good Georgia Tech team 82-52 for their 37th straight win in the series.

Duke (26-5) will play in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal against North Carolina, who beat Maryland 73-70 in the nightcap. No.  7 seed Georgia Tech (20-11) is virtually assured of a bid to the NCAA tournament.

It was a balanced offensive effort for Duke, as Haley Peters led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Elizabeth Williams added 15 points with five blocks and five assists, while Tricia Liston also had 15 points, Richa Jackson 14 and freshman Oderah Chidom eight points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

And Kalia Johnson, who has taken over many of the point-guard duties, had seven points, six rebounds, two assists and two turnovers in a career-high 32 minutes.

Duke shot 52.9 percent for the game to Georgia Tech’s 23.6, outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 49-36 and had 13 blocked shots.

“It was a very good basketball game for us and a terrific and intense 40 minutes, which is really what you have to do at this time of year,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Georgia Tech is a fantastic team. We were really concerned about different things they could do, and I really loved our poise against their pressure.”

Tyaunna Marshall led Tech with 17 points while Kaela Davis had 16.

Tenth-ranked Duke, which has lost senior point guard Chelsea Gray, sophomore Alexis Jones and senior Chloe Wells over the second half of the season, won the teams’ regular-season meeting 64-47 on Jan. 5 in Atlanta.

“Obviously we found out today why Duke is one of the top 10 teams in the country,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “I really felt like their seniors stepped up and played extremely tough, especially on the boards and just ripping balls out of our hands. I think we kind of got on our heels. We hit a wall and we never really recovered.”

Duke led by 35-26 at halftime before turning the game into a blowout.

“We’ve done a great job as a whole, everybody just embracing what we’ve gone through this year and over the last few games,” Peters said. “We’ve had some setbacks when we haven’t done what we wanted to do, but we’ve always stayed with each other and stayed in what we’re trying to build on.”

The score went to 50-30 with 15:05 to go on a Jackson layup, and the Jackets were never again closer than 17 points back.

“Blocking shots is intimidating, obviously, and I think everyone contributed to that,” Williams said. “Just having our hands up and being active. I also think we had deflections, not just blocks.”

Johnson said she had rather the circumstances be different, but she’s enjoying her time playing the point.

“It’s always fun to be on the court,” Johnson said. “I’m just always ready to play, no matter. Tonight, 32 minutes. Every time I get the opportunity I want to make a difference and do what I can for my team.

“Going back to my high school days I played a little point guard, so it’s like visiting my old days. But it’s cool.”

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