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Liston Leads Duke Past Wake Forest, 81-70
Courtesy: Associated Press
Release: 02/17/2013
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Tricia Liston
Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke was stuck in a surprisingly tight game with the one team it always beats, and the player capable of single-handedly saving the Blue Devils had just dislocated her knee.

That left it up to Tricia Liston and Elizabeth Williams to find a way to keep No. 5 Duke rolling.

Liston scored a career-high 29 points with five 3-pointers, and the Blue Devils pulled away to beat Wake Forest 81-70 on Sunday after losing star Chelsea Gray to a knee injury.

"I thought it was a huge test of our team's resilience," coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "We passed it with flying colors, relative to their competitive nature and execution and the leadership that the team needed."

Haley Peters added 13 points for Duke (24-1, 14-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). After Gray went down in the first half, it had trouble putting away a Wake Forest team it beat by 29 points last month and led by 13 with 15½ minutes to go.

McCallie said the dislocation Gray suffered in the knee will keep her out for the rest of the regular season, and an MRI is scheduled for Monday. If there are no ligament tears, it's possible Gray could return for the postseason.

"The best thing we could hope for is a dislocation, which would allow her to come back in a period of time," McCallie said.

The Blue Devils found a way to win this one without their inspirational leader, who was hurt with 8:07 left in the first half when she collapsed to the court clutching her right knee. Her screams were clearly audible throughout an otherwise silent arena.

She was helped off the floor and didn't appear to be putting any weight on that leg, and she watched the second half from the bench with a brace on her knee.

"In the timeouts, I'd walk over there before I'd go out (on the court) and she would tell me something I needed to do or look for on the court," Liston said. "Everybody felt her presence in the game ... being as strong as she was today was a huge thing for our team."

Chelsea Douglas scored a career-high 24 points with five 3s for the Demon Deacons (11-15, 4-10), and Lakevia Boykin tied it at 67 with a 3 with 3½ minutes left.

Williams hit two free throws with 3:07 left. Liston followed that with a 3 and two foul shots to make it 74-67 and put the Blue Devils on their way to their 39th straight victory in the series.

Williams finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting for Duke, which won its eighth straight overall and 37th straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium against ACC teams.

"Without question, the team needed some calm out there, relative to some of the shots they were making and people adjusting and us adjusting to playing without a point guard who does an awful lot for our team," McCallie said.

Boykin had 17 points with three 3s, Sandra Garcia had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Dearica Hamby added 10 points for Wake Forest, which was denied the biggest victory in school history and its first victory over Duke since the 1993 ACC tournament. The Demon Deacons, who shot nearly 56 percent in the second half, lost their eighth in 10 games.

"This group has been understanding how well we can play when we do play well together and feed off each other," Wake coach Jen Hoover said. "I think the mentality of this group is that we can compete and play with anybody."

In Gray's absence, Peters and Liston appeared to have put the Blue Devils on their way to yet another comfortable win against Wake Forest. Her 3 barely a minute into the second half put Duke up 43-30.

But a Demon Deacons team that trimmed a 20-point deficit to three nine days earlier against No. 7 Maryland had another rally in it, and this one was almost entirely the work of Douglas.

She scored 11 points during a 16-3 run that erased that 13-point deficit. She tied it at 52 with a 3 with 11 minutes left, and Wake Forest -- which ranks 328th nationally in scoring defense -- held the Blue Devils without a field goal for 5½ minutes while clawing back in it.

That mirrored their strong start, when they opened with a 15-4 run that gave Duke its largest deficit at home this season. That burst was capped by -- who else? -- Douglas, who swished a 3 out of a timeout to end the run just more than 5 minutes in.

"We can score. Our offense is not the problem," Douglas said. "It is just that we are inconsistent on the defensive end."