After defeating No. 10 California on Sunday, Duke (7-0), led by head coach Joanne P. McCallie, continued its dominant play in their ACC opener against Georgia Tech (3-5), taking down the Yellow Jackets in an 85-52 victory Thursday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
It has been a long journey for junior guard Chloe Wells, but the journey was certainly made all the sweeter Thursday night in the Blue Devils victory against Georgia Tech. Wells saw her first action in nearly a year Sunday against California, but only played four minutes and did not have a large impact on the game. She recorded no points in her sparse playing time.
“I wanted it all right then and I think it kind of messed me up in the beginning,” Wells said. “I took some time to reflect after the game and I talked to my family and to my teammates. They told me it’s going to come.”
In Thursday’s game against Georgia Tech, Wells played six minutes in the first half, recording one steal, adding an assist and a turnover. It was not until the second half—when fellow junior guard Chelsea Gray was forced to take a seat on the bench after picking up her fourth foul with 11:04 remaining in the game—that Wells had another opportunity to take the floor.
This time Wells made the most of it. With 9:35 left, she dribbled down to the free throw line on the right wing and drained a step-back jumper.
“I knew I only had 15 minutes to play tops, so I was trying to get all I could in 15 minutes,” Wells said.
Wells was not done there. With less than three minutes to go, Wells knocked down a floater in the lane to put Duke up 78-52. On the following inbounds pass, junior forward Haley Peters intercepted the pass and Wells cut to the basket and converted a contested layup, garnering cheers from her teammates and fans alike.
“If she keeps up at this rate, 14 minutes and eight points, she’s really going to be a star,” McCallie said.
The apex of her night came with 1:16 left, when Wells went one-on-one with a defender for the length of the court and finished with a crossover, spin and dropped floater in the lane that had the entire crowd bursting into applause.
“That last one felt good to have my crossover back and score a pull-up over her,” Wells said. “It felt really good.”
Williams shows what she can do
After being hobbled by an injury in the early part of Duke’s season, Elizabeth Williams appears to be returning to the form that made her the 2011 Freshman of the Year in the NCAA. She pounded the Yellow Jackets for 25 points and 11 rebounds, featuring a variety of hook shots, layups and floaters. She was a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
“It was nice to play well and see everyone around me play well,” Williams said. Williams was efficient in her scoring, going 10-for-14 from the field. The Blue Devils as a whole shot 46.7 percent, with 25 points coming on easy layups off Georgia Tech turnovers.
Three-point shooting, usually a strong suit for Duke, was not a hot spot in the Blue Devils’ offense Thursday. The team went 2-for-10 overall, with both three-pointers coming from shooting specialist Tricia Liston. Georgia Tech also struggled from behind the arc, managing just 1-for-19.
“I don’t think we’ve ever come in here and held them to 2-for-10 three-point shooting,” Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Jordan said.
For the second game in a row, Duke outrebounded its opponent, besting Georgia Tech 55-44. Three players, Williams, Peters and Ka’lia Johnson, had 11 rebounds apiece.
“Haley and I always talk about who’s going to get more rebounds and it was nice for us to try and dominate in the post tonight,” Williams said.
This paid off for the Blue Devils, as they racked up 20 second-chance points from 20 offensive rebounds. The Yellow Jackets came up with 24 offensive rebounds, but were only able to convert those into 14 second-chance points.
The Double-Double Double
Peters and Williams both recorded double-doubles tonight, and the Blue Devils almost had a third player achieve that feat, as sophomore guard Ka’lia Johnson had nine points and 11 rebounds.
“It kind of stinks that it’s only my second [career double-double],” Peters said. “But I should be getting more of those this year.”
The Blue Devils seem to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the ACC with each of their convincing wins this season. Duke dismantled a Georgia Tech team on Thursday who was picked to finish third in the ACC by preseason voters.
Although the Yellow Jackets lacked size, they did not lack talent. Junior guard Tyuanna Marshall exploded for 23 points, marking the third game in a row in which the Blue Devils have let an opposing guard put up at least 18 points.