CLEMSON, S.C. – Tricia Liston wasn't feeling too well at Clemson, until the Duke junior got on the floor.
Liston was under the weather and did not start for the first time this season. Foul troubles for her teammates, though, quickly got her into the game and Liston shook off her cold to score 22 points and lead the fourth-ranked Blue Devils to their 17th straight win over the Lady Tigers, 60-46, on Thursday night.
Liston led a second-half rally as Duke (17-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) bounced back from a 79-49 loss at No. 3 Connecticut on Monday night.
Liston said the illness wasn't serious and she wasn't going to let it slow her down at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"I think I was just focused on coming in and being aggressive," Liston said. "Trying to impact and bring more energy from the bench."
Liston did that, especially in the second half when she scored 14 of her points and led a 26-9 run midway through the final period that gave Duke control for good.
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie acknowledged this group took a little bit longer than others she's coached to get past what happened at Connecticut earlier in the week. The Blue Devils had been the last remaining undefeated team - men's or women's - in Division I and had hoped to make a statement against the powerhouse Huskies.
Instead, Duke fell apart in the second half, outscored 47-19 and eager to get back to playing the kind of basketball it had much of this season. There were plenty of glaring problems in this one for the Blue Devils.
They shot a season-low 33.9 percent (21 of 62) and surpassed the 20-turnover mark (they had 22) for just the second time this season. Their 60 points were their third-fewest of the season and well below their scoring average of better than 77 points coming in.
Liston said the players watched the film and zoned in on their mistakes against Connecticut. "We've got to make sure we don't make them in the future," she said. "As for right now, we've put that game behind us and we're focused on the ACC."
McCallie said the trip to the Northeast was a good experience. "It's a long way away, it's a very physical game, then to have to turn around quickly and come on down to Clemson, that's part of it," the coach said. "I think this will help us mature and grow even more."
The Lady Tigers (5-13, 1-6) led 26-23 after Quinyotta Pettaway's foul shots with 13:34 to play as Duke missed its first 11 shots of the period. That's when Liston began the Blue Devils' charge with a 3-pointer and hit two jumpers to put Duke ahead for good.
"I would say for 30 minutes we gave good effort," Clemson coach Itoro Coleman said. "But Duke did what they're supposed to do. They turned up their defense, they turned up their offense and we just didn't have enough to finish the game."
Liston finished a point from her career scoring best. She made four of Duke's five 3-pointers and rescued the Blue Devils on a poor shooting night. Duke's defense, though, helped turn the tide and forced 31 turnovers off 21 steals. Chelsea Gray had a career-high nine steals for the Blue Devils.
Duke was counting on a strong bounce back at Clemson, a team it had beaten 82-45 two weeks ago at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Instead, the bad shooting and mistakes that cost the Blue Devils in their last game surfaced again at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Duke committed 17 turnovers in the opening half - it had just 15 all game against Connecticut - and shot a dismal 31 percent (9 of 29) from the field. The Blue Devils were ahead 21-14 after Williams' inside shot with 5:56 to go before the break, then did not make another field goal the rest of the period.
The Blue Devils' starters combined for just five field goals. Alexis Jones and Chelsea Gray combined for nine of the team's turnovers. Williams, fifth in ACC scoring, was held to five points in the opening half.
Duke's defense kept Clemson from taking advantage, although the Lady Tigers scratched out an 8-1 run at the end to tie things at 22-all when Aisha Turner banked home a jumper at the buzzer.
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