DURHAM, N.C. — Tricia Liston scored a career-high 29 points with five 3-pointers and No. 5 Duke beat Wake Forest 81-70 on Sunday after losing star Chelsea Gray to a knee injury.
Haley Peters added 13 for the Blue Devils (24-1, 14-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). After Gray went down in the first half, they had trouble putting away a Wake Forest team they beat by 29 points last month and led by 13 with 15 1/2 minutes to go.
The Blue Devils found a way to get it done without Gray, 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.
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 3 1/2 minutes left.
Elizabeth 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.
Boykin had 17 points with three 3s while 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.
In Gray's absence, Peters and Liston appeared to have put the Blue Devils on their way to yet another comfortable win over 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 last week 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 5 1/2 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 over 5 minutes in.