DURHAM, N.C. - Chelsea Gray went into her three-minute offense and helped No. 5 Duke avoid a shocking, last-minute upset.
With the Blue Devils leading 61-60, Gray scored eight of their last 10 points in that span and they beat Boston College 71-62 on Thursday night.
Going into the game, the sophomore guard had 37 of the 116 points Duke scored in the last three minutes this season. And in her career, she had made 22 of 41 field goals in that stretch.
"You are who you are as a timely scorer," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Duke (20-3, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) was led by Gray with 19 points and Elizabeth Williams with 18 points and 10 rebounds, her sixth double-double of the season. Haley Peters added 16 points.
"We doubled the post, but us doubling didn't cause those 3-point shots," BC coach Sylvia Crawley said. "We doubled (Williams) from the baseline side. She really wanted to make her work for her points tonight. We didn't want her to get more than 18 and she got 18 exactly."
BC (5-19, 0-11) was led by Kristen Doherty with 17 and Shayra Brown with 12. The Eagles set a school record with their 11th consecutive loss.
Gray hit a jumper that gave Duke a 61-55 lead with 3:22 left. But BC closed that to 61-60 on a 3-pointer by Tessah Holt and two free throws by Katie Zenevitch.
Gray then made a 3-pointer, Doherty hit a layup for BC and Gray sank another 3-pointer, making it 67-62 with 1:28 to play. The Blue Devils finished with a short hook by Peters and two free throws by Gray.
"Down the stretch my teammates were driving to the bucket and they were collapsing on one of them, Tricia Liston," Gray said. "They collapsed on her and they kicked it out."
Before the opening tip, the game seemed like a huge mismatch. Duke had beaten Wake Forest by 32 points and No. 22 North Carolina by 40 in its last two games. BC had lost eight of its 10 ACC games by at least 10 points. And the Blue Devils had a size advantage.
But every time they seemed poised to break the game open, BC came back.
"I tried something different," Crawley said. "I started with all of our best ball handlers. We did that in the last game and we found we had less turnovers. Then we shuffled in players every two to three minutes to keep their minds fresh. It was working."
BC led for the last time at 18-16 before Duke scored the next 11 points to take a 27-18 lead 4:43 before intermission. But the Eagles rallied by scoring the last eight points of the half and trailed just 32-31.
Duke added to its lead at the start of the second half but couldn't pull away.
With the score 39-33, the teams alternated baskets until the Blue Devils went ahead 52-44 on a 3-pointer by Gray with 11:09 to go. Then the Eagles scored the next four points on two free throws by Brown and a layup by Tiffany Ruffin, cutting the lead to 52-48 with 10:11 remaining.
The lead was back up to 59-52 when the Eagles scored again on 3-pointer by Kerri Shields. But after a steal by Peters, Gray hit her short jumper that opened a six-point advantage and started her late-game surge.
The 6-foot-3 Williams dominated inside early with layups on seven of Duke's first 10 shots. But BC clogged the middle after that and held her to just four points the rest of the way.
That opened up the perimeter, though, and Duke hit six of its seven 3-point shots in the second half.
"In the first half we were kind of forcing it to the basket," Gray said. "In the second half we did a better job of if it wasn't there (we'd) stop, pop, look for the post and if it's not there, hit the 3s."
But Gray had some problems earlier, turning the ball over six times.
"Our point guard penetrated and they left Chelsea open," McCallie said. "I was stunned by that. I didn't think she'd be open at all. and she hit another 3. I think she showed great poise and composure because she did not play very good. Cheslea Gray with six turnovers. She's not going to like that too much. I like the poise and the fight she showed at the most critical time of the game."
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