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DURHAM, N.C. – Chelsea Douglas and Lakevia Boykin nearly shot Wake Forest to the biggest victory in school history.
Douglas scored a career-high 24 points and hit five 3-pointers Sunday while Boykin hit three more to fuel the Demon Deacons' rally against No. 5 Duke.
But the Blue Devils overcame the loss of one of their best players and made the big plays down the stretch of their 81-70 win over Wake Forest — their 39th straight victory in the series.
The Demon Deacons (11-15, 4-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) erased a 13-point second-half deficit and tied it at 67 on Boykin's 3-pointer with 3½ minutes left.
Williams hit two free throws with 3:07 to go. Liston followed that with a 3 and two foul shots to make it 74-67, and that had the Blue Devils well on their way to the victory.
"This group has been understanding how well we can play when we do play well together and feed off each other," coach Jen Hoover said. "I think the mentality of this group is that we can compete and play with anybody."
Liston scored a career-high 29 points with five 3-pointers for the Blue Devils, who lost star Chelsea Gray to a knee injury.
"I thought it was a huge test of our team's resilience," coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "We passed it with flying colors, relative to their competitive nature and execution and the leadership that the team needed."
McCallie said the dislocation Gray suffered in the knee will keep her out for the rest of the regular season, and an MRI is scheduled for Monday. If there are no ligament tears, it's possible Gray could return for the postseason.
"The best thing we could hope for is a dislocation which would allow her to come back in a period of time," McCallie said.
The Blue Devils found a way to win this one without 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.
"In the timeouts, I'd walk over there before I'd go out (on the court) and she would tell me something I needed to do or look for on the court," Liston said. "Everybody felt her presence in the game . being as strong as she was today was a huge thing for our team."
Haley Peters added 13 points and Williams finished with 11 on 4-of-15 shooting for Duke, which struggled to put away a Wake Forest team it beat by 29 points last month but won its eighth straight overall and 37th straight at Cameron Indoor Stadium against ACC teams.
"Without question, the team needed some calm out there, relative to some of the shots they were making and people adjusting and us adjusting to playing without a point guard who does an awful lot for our team," McCallie said.
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 5½ 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.
"We can score. Our offense is not the problem," Douglas said. "It is just that we are inconsistent on the defensive end."