LEXINGTON, KY. – Guard Tricia Liston came up as the clutch performer in leading the 2nd-ranked Duke Blue Devils (12-1) to a 69-61 victory over the 5th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats (11-1) in a packed Rupp Arena on Sunday.
The senior guard tallied a game and season-high 28 points, shooting 10-of-19 to go along with six rebounds, while she and her teammates played in a hostile environment with a crowd of 23,706, the largest to watch a women’s basketball game at the famed arena, looking on.
Forward Elizabeth Williams made a noticeable presence finishing with 17 points, 8 rebounds and three blocks while guards Chelsea Gray (6 assists) and Alexis Jones (5 assists) were contained to scoring 13 points combined, but instead used their talents to control and distribute the ball effectively from the point.
Forward Haley Peters supported (9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) at both ends of the court, while freshman forward Kendall McCravey-Cooper came off the bench and blocked a career and game-high five shots in six minutes of playing time.
Duke’s all-round team effort contained the Wildcats to their lowest-scoring total of the season.
For Liston, it was a great finish to an eventful week for the Blue Devils’ leading scorer who had hit a low point in her season just three days earlier.
During an 80-51 win over the Albany Great Danes on Thursday, Liston finished on the bench with only five points and no rebounds.
During her postgame comments, Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie pointed out that rebounding was fundamental for the Blue Devils to be successful and during that game Liston “didn’t have a great day.”
Even though Duke eventually dominated the Great Danes, its defensive play continued to show a struggle to rebound effectively, an occurrence that came on the heels of the Blue Devils suffering their first loss of the season to the top-ranked Connecticut Huskies on Tuesday.
Though Liston wasn’t the only one to place blame on the team’s play off the glass against Albany, her absence on the court during the second half was the most notable.
With the challenge posted by her coach following her worst performance of the season, Liston did what all of Duke’s starters are expected to do – take control and lead.
It seems that the time spent on the bench on Thursday provided more than enough time for Liston to think and refocus on what she needed to do.
On Sunday, she made sure she didn’t see that part of the court much and didn’t give McCallie any reason to put her there either.
Instead she kept busy on the court, playing 39 minutes, and leading all scorers while helping her team hand Kentucky its first loss of the season.