Williams scores 18, Peters 16 as No. 5 Duke pulls away and beats Virginia 62-41

Elizabeth Williams didn't make her presence felt for No. 5 Duke against Virginia until the Blue Devils were pulling away.

The Blue Devils hardly seemed to notice as Haley Peters scored 14 points and Chelsea Gray 14, and the tandem sparked a 21-5 run spanning the halves as Duke overcame a slow start and won its 20th consecutive game against Virginia, 62-41.

"E always gets a lot of attention because she deserves it," Peters said after making seven of 10 shots, including a 3-pointer. "I was just trying to be aggressive and focused and attack the basket when the opportunities were there."

The burst turned a 22-13 deficit into a 34-27 lead for Duke (21-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). After Virginia closed within four at 34-30, Duke scored nine of the next 11 points and cruised to victory.

"We do a good job as a team of handling things and staying poised and staying steady and not getting rattled" Peters said. "When we do that, we can play well and get ourselves out of ruts."

Williams scored 14 of her 18 points after halftime, and had eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal.

"When we started going on our runs, it started with defense, as we were dictating everything," she said.

Ataira Franklin led Virginia (14-8, 6-5) with 15 points. The Cavaliers had won three of their last four overall, but shot just 26.7 percent (16 of 60) and had 21 turnovers. They have not beaten the Blue Devils since a 61-49 victory on Jan. 30, 2000.

After leading most of the first half and trailing just 24-22 at halftime, Virginia coach Joanne Boyle, a Duke alum and former Blue Devils assistant, talked to her team about not letting Duke come out firing in the second half to take command.

"It wasn't necessarily the first five minutes," she said. "It was the five minutes after when it really got away from us."

Actually, Duke took command after about 3 ½ minutes.

Peters and Gray scored six each during the big run, with Peters getting it started with the first two baskets to start an 11-0 run to end the first half. She started the scoring in the second half, too, before Gray made back-to-back 3-pointers, the second from about 25 feet with a hand in her face and 15:32 remaining in the game. Williams' two free throws made it 34-27.

Franklin's 3-pointer from the top of the key pulled Virginia within 34-30, briefly exciting the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena, but Gray scored on a fast break and Peters had a three-point play.

After Simone Egwu's putback for Virginia, Williams and Alexis Jones scored inside for Duke and the Blue Devils were on their way to their 28th consecutive road victory against an unranked opponent.

Most of Williams' points came as the Blue Devils pulled away in the final five minutes.

The Cavaliers started quickly with Franklin scoring seven points in a 16-5 run that gave them a 20-11 lead just past the midpoint of the half. But it all stopped after a sequence in which Crosby made a steal and her left-handed layup missed, Franklin rebounded and missed twice, the second called a jump ball.

The Cavaliers scored just two points the rest of the way as Tricia Liston scored seven points and Peters four in a 13-2 burst to close the half, giving the Blue Devils a 24-22 lead heading into the locker room.

They also did it without much contribution from scoring leader Williams, who played 16 minutes in the half, but managed just four points, three rebounds and two assists. She made two of five field goal tries.


Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr