DURHAM, N.C. – Duke Blue Devils guard Tricia Liston needed only two three-point field goals to earn the school record for career three-pointers made.
She did it while leading the third-ranked Duke Blue Devils (20-1, 7-0) to a 111-67 rout of the Pittsburgh Panthers (9-11, 1-5) at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday.
In the three games since senior guard Chelsea Gray went down with a season-ending injury, Liston had picked up her scoring pace and was averaging 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists coming into the game against the Panthers.
“I think I need to continue doing what I am doing, trying to be a vocal leader and lead by example.” Liston said.
That was exactly what she did against Pitt as she led six Duke scorers who finished with double digits totals by tallying 23 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Along with Liston, center Elizabeth Williams (20 points, 4 rebounds), forward Haley Peters (16 points, 12 rebounds), and guard Alexis Jones (11 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds) carried the load for the Blue Devils as they finished with a season-high 60-percent shooting performance.
The Blue Devils had been outrebounded in their last two games, road wins against 24th-ranked Florida State (85-77) and Virginia Tech (74-70) coming into their return home against the Panthers, and were still adjusting to playing effectively without Gray.
Knowing that fact, it looked as though Pitt understood and was ready to run from baseline to baseline with Duke.
They Panthers did just that – for the first five minutes of the game.
After that point, they began to miss shots, get outrebounded, and watched the Blue Devils take advantage of each opportunity afforded to them to pulled ahead 17-11 with 14:31 to play in the opening half.
“Duke is very talented – pick your poison,” Pittsburgh coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said.
“You know if you try to take away an inside presence, they kill you outside. They’re just so well balanced with so many weapons. It just was a tough matchup for us across the board. We were undersized, overmatched.”
Williams, Liston, and Peters carried much of the load throughout the first half and after coming out of the first media timeout, Liston dropped her second three of the game and extended the Duke lead to eight points, leading 20-12.
That was the golden shot that vaulted her into the top spot as the all-time leader in three-pointers made at Duke, passing the mark of 222 previously owned by Abby Waner.
Liston did it in an efficient manner too – attempting 210 less three-point shots to reach the number.
“Huge congratulations to Tricia,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“It’s so early in the season – it’s hard to talk about any records or things – because that’s something you do at a banquet. We’re just really, really proud, and the thing about that is, is the few shots she’s actually taken if you look at her attempts. That speaks to what a record is supposed to be.”
With Liston eventually adding to her total, Duke then put together a 12-0 run to extend its lead to 32-14 with 9:32 to play, and continued to show its shooting dominance from the field.
The Blue Devils finished the half shooting 66 percent, another season high, which included draining 5-of-8 attempts beyond the arc thanks to Liston.
With the Blue Devils leading 55-29 to start the second half, both teams came out firing on all cylinders.
Both teams combined for 26 points during the first five minutes of play, with Duke posting the majority of them to build up their lead to 71-39 at the 15:09 mark.
Duke’s defense suffocated the Panthers throughout the game, and held their offense to a 30-percent shooting performance, while continuing to convert their 50 total rebounds into scoring opportunities.
Even While Asia Logan (17 points, 4 rebounds) and Brianna Kiesel (19 points, 4 rebounds) led the Panthers to an improved shooting performance, Duke’s bench depth took over and worked to eventually push the score beyond the century mark.
“It was very important,” McCallie said of using her bench players throughout the game.
“Adjusting to the way the game was called was a challenge. I think it was very important that people were ready to get in and do well as we had to rotate people with two fouls.”
Freshman forward Oderah Chidom (12 points, 6 rebounds) along with Richa Jackson (9 points, 5 rebounds) who played guard, provided valuable scoring contributions for the Blue Devils during the final 20 minutes.
Forward Amber Henson scored a career-high 13 points, including her first collegiate three-pointer that she dropped during the first half while finishing the game a perfect 3-for-3 from the perimeter.
“Definitely with Chelsea going out there is a need for people to step up and fill those spots, so I think me having a game like this was important for my confidence, but also for my coaches to see that I can do it,” Henson said.
With 5:01 left on the clock, it was forward Kendall McCravey-Cooper’s drop-step and spin move to the basket that put the Blue Devils ahead by forty points and rolled the scoreboard to three digits, 101-61, as she posted her first of two made field goals for the game.
As time counted down, walk-on junior guard Jenna Frush ignited the crowd of 4,504 one last time as she converted her first three-pointer of the season and finalized the Blue Devils’ scoring for the game at 111 points with 33 seconds remaining.
The win marked Duke’s 17th consecutive season in recording 20 or more victories.
“This was a good strong team game for us,” McCallie said.
“A lot of people stepped and played well, and our defense got more intense in the second half, which was important.”