Va. Tech women can hold on to fast start at Duke
DURHAM, N.C.—Aerial Wilson's strong start gave Virginia Tech an early lead. She just couldn't get help her team hold on to it.
Wilson scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half of the Hokies' 67-45 loss at No. 5 Duke on Wednesday night.
Wilson started the game 4 for 6 from the floor, including 3 for 3 on 3-pointers, but was 4 for 21 the rest of the way. She scored her team's first 11 points, helping the Hokies (7-19, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) run out to a 13-9 lead less than six minutes into the game.
"I felt like I was getting a lot of open looks," Wilson said. "In the beginning, I just shot it with confidence. Then as the game got going, you get a little fatigued. You lose your legs, so you start shooting with your arms. But I thought I was getting some good looks."
Duke answered Wilson's early fireworks with a 14-3 run, led by a 3-pointer from Liston to take control of the game.
The Hokies suffered their 10th loss in the last 11 games and their 17th consecutive defeat against Duke.
Virginia Tech went scoreless for the final 5:30 of the game as the Blue Devils closed with an 11-0 run.
The Hokies finished with 18 turnovers and shot 31 percent from the floor for the game.
"Absolutely no complaints with the effort," Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said. "I'd like a little bit better execution, but every coach would."
Tricia Liston scored 17 points to lead Duke (22-3, 13-0). Chelsea Gray added 15 points for the Blue Devils, who lost starting forward Richa Jackson to a left knee injury in the first half.
"I really thought we grew as a team," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I think you can't underestimate losing a player to an injury and that effect. You have to really defy human instincts because unfortunately what that does, empathy is what comes out.
"You don't want empathy when you're competing, and I thought it was extraordinary what our team did to overcome that. They defied human nature, really."
Jackson fell to the floor under Duke's offensive basket as she was fouled by Virginia Tech's Alyssa Fenyn with 9:21 to play in the first half. Jackson remained on the floor for a few minutes, clutching her knee as McCallie and trainers attended to her.
Two members of Duke's training staff helped Jackson limp toward the locker room as she struggled to put any weight on her injured leg. Jackson is scheduled for an MRI exam Thursday, a Duke spokesman said.
The Blue Devils already were without starting point guard Chloe Wells and reserve post player Amber Henson, who have both been out since late December. Wells is not enrolled for the spring semester due to a violation of university policy, and Henson had season-ending knee surgery.
"We've got to play because they can't," Liston said. "We just have to take that in mind. Coach said something in the locker room that nothing is guaranteed. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us, and that's the way that we need to start playing now until the end of the season."
Liston made two 3-pointers and a steal during a 14-2 run in the second half as Duke pulled away for its 29th consecutive home win against conference foes.
Elizabeth Williams added 12 points and Haley Peters had 11 for the Blue Devils, who shot 35 percent from the floor.
The Blue Devils led 35-26 at halftime after making 14 of 20 free throws. Duke attempted at least one free throw after each of Virginia Tech's 11 fouls in the half, but the Hokies had no attempts on Duke's five fouls.
Duke finished 25 of 34 on free throws, while the Hokies were 3 of 4.
"I love that we were aggressive and got to the line a lot," McCallie said. "That's important to us."
Both teams wore pink to raise awareness for breast cancer. The Blue Devils sported pink trim on their white uniforms and wore pink headbands and pink shoelaces. The Hokies wore pink warmup shirts to go with pink shoes, socks and headbands.