GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Sophomore Kendall Cooper totaled a career-high 21 points and senior Elizabeth Williams and freshman Azurá Stevens both collected double-doubles as 16th-ranked Duke ran past Wake Forest, 77-68, in the quarterfinals of the 2015 ACC Tournament Friday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The Blue Devils improved to 21-9 on the season and secured a spot in Saturday’s semifinals, where they will face the winner of a quarterfinal matchup between top seed Notre Dame and eighth-seeded Miami. The first semifinal contest in Greensboro is slated for 12 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
On the day, Duke featured four players with double-digit scoring, led by Cooper’s 21-point performance. Redshirt freshman Rebecca Greenwell had 17, Stevens 15 and Williams 11, with Williams also pulling down a team-high 16 rebounds.
"I just thought it was a hard fought game, and very physical game and a great game for us to prep to keep getting better, in particular the rebounding," said head coach Joanne P. McCallie. "I was very proud of Kendall in terms of her aggressiveness in coming off the bench and giving us such confidence and such great moves, tremendous duck ins and a lot of aggression. I thought Becca was, as always, competing hard, looking for things and attacking, which is very important, and Elizabeth, those 16 rebounds were huge since too many we only had 10 with Azura and 16 with Elizabeth."
The Blue Devils jumped out to a 13-2 advantage behind an early five points from Stevens and four from Greenwell. The team also opened the contest with a strong defensive presence, holding the Demon Deacons to just five points through the first eight and a half minutes.
Turnovers plagued Duke over its next couple offensive possessions, but McCallie's squad crashed the boards and converted at the free throw line to extend its lead to 21-9 at the 7:57 mark. Williams spearheaded the Blue Devils’ rebounding effort with 12 first-half boards while Greenwell led all players at the intermission with 11 points.
The defense held Wake Forest to 19 percent shooting in the opening 20 minutes for a 36-21 lead at the break.
The Demon Deacons displayed improved shooting in the second period, hitting seven of their first nine attempts from the field to slash the deficit to five at 43-38. Stevens picked up her fifth double-double in the last six games midway through the half and Duke pushed the margin back to double digits with seven unanswered points.
Williams joined Stevens in posting a double-double and Cooper came off the bench to top the 20-point mark for the first time in her career. The Blue Devils led by as many as 16 inside the final two minutes and thwarted a Wake Forest rally to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
Dearica Hamby paced the Demon Deacons with 26 points and 16 rebounds in the loss while teammate Kandice Ball supplied 11 boards. As a team, Wake Forest shot 34 percent from the floor for the contest to 46 percent field goal shooting by Duke. The Blue Devils outscored the Demon Deacons in the paint by a 40-28 margin though Wake Forest held a 44-40 edge in rebounding.