Playing its first overtime game in nearly five years, Duke looked comfortable as it used a late run to surge to victory.
No. 3 Duke edged No. 24 Florida State 84-77 in overtime at the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla. Behind a 25 point performance by senior guard Tricia Liston and a double-double from senior Richa Jackson, the Blue Devils overcame a second-half deficit to remain unbeaten in the ACC.
“We can really grow from this,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "This is an experience this team has not had. This was a little adversity and I thought that everyone rose to the occasion.”
Duke (19-1, 6-0) managed to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation, but sprung out of the gate in the extra period, finishing the game on a 12-4 run in overtime.
The Seminoles (14-5, 2-4) tied the game at 49 with 13:48 to play and then took advantage of three straight Duke turnovers to jump out to a 55-49 lead. From there, strong play at both ends of the floor allowed Florida State to hold a lead until the final seconds of the regulation.
Leading 71-69 with 1:33 left in regulation, Seminole guard Cheetah Delgado came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast, giving Florida State a four-point advantage.
“There was a point where we all just looked at each other and said 'We have to get going, we have to come together right now,'” Liston said.
On a night when the Blue Devils only shot 54.5 percent from the charity strike, Liston sank two free throws to bring her team within two points. After preventing an offensive score on the next possession, guard Alexis Jones pulled up at the free-throw line and made the game-tying shot. Jones also tied a school record with 15 assists.
After two straight timeouts called by McCallie, the Duke could not find the bottom of the net and the game headed to extra time.
“I love this team,” McCallie said. “This team fights.”
Despite the win, Duke had its share of problems, including being outrebounded on the offensive boards 21-12 and turning the ball over 17 times. Still, all five starters scored in double-digits, combining for 82 of the team’s 85 points.
The Blue Devils had trouble containing Seminole senior forward Natasha Howard, who finished the game with a career-high 28 points and 22 rebounds. She also added five blocks.
“She is a great player,” Liston said. “She has been on the scouting report for a few years. She brings so much energy and leadership to their team. 28 [points] and 22 [rebounds], I have not seen that since I have been here. She is an awesome player and we were doing everything to stop her.”
Howard’s counterpart, forward Elizabeth Williams fouled out in overtime after scoring 20 points, grabbing seven rebounds and notching six blocks.
Duke shot less than 30 percent from the field in the first seven minutes of the first half, falling behind 11-6 early on, but would improve to a 50 percent clip by the end of the period.
Liston, however, only registered four points in the first half, before dropping 21 points in the final 25 minutes.
“In the first half I was being too stagnant on offense and I was not moving as much. Coach [McCallie] at halftime showed me some things,” Liston said. “Just moving without the ball a lot more in the second half and creating for my teammates in the first half, and continuing that in the second half.”
Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the game, which featured 11 ties and 19 lead changes.
After a 15-2 first-half run that put the Blue Devils ahead 21-13, Florida State roared back with a 9-0 run of its own. Battling back and forth in the final minutes of the opening half, Jones sank a jumper to give Duke a 33-32 advantage going into the locker room.
The Blue Devils easily handled its first four ACC opponents, the Blue Devils have notched wins of four and eight points against its last two opponents.
But Duke is taking the pair of close wins in stride.
“It is a fantastic experience for us,” McCallie said. “Overtime is part of it. No one said this was going to be easy. This is the best women’s basketball conference by far.”