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No. 10 Duke beats Ga Tech 82-52 at ACC tourney

AP - Sports
No. 10 Duke beats Ga Tech 82-52 at ACC tourney
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- After stumbling a bit down the stretch, No. 10 Duke came to the right city - and faced the right opponent - to get rolling again.

The Blue Devils claimed their 37th straight victory over Georgia Tech on Friday night, an 82-52 win in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals.

Duke has made Greensboro its home-away-from-Cameron over the past few years, reaching the ACC championship game five times in coach Joanne P. McCallie's previous six tries and winning it three times - including last year.

They will face No. 13 North Carolina (24-8), the tournament's sixth seed, on Saturday in the semifinals. The Tar Heels swept the regular-season series, including a four-point win last Sunday in the finale.

The Blue Devils came here this year on a slide, having lost two of three while adjusting to season-ending injuries to their two starting guards and effectively playing without a true point guard.

''We've done just a great job as a whole, everybody just embracing the challenge of what we've gone through this year,'' said Haley Peters, who scored 19 points.

''Over the last few games, we've had some setbacks ... but we've always stayed with each other and stayed with what we're trying to build on,'' she added.

Elizabeth Williams scored 15 points and blocked five shots, and Tricia Liston added 15 along with her school-record-tying 80th 3-pointer of the season for the second-seeded Blue Devils (26-5).

They shot 53 percent, held the seventh-seeded Yellow Jackets to a season-worst 24 percent shooting and used a 29-8 run to push their lead into the 20s.

''We did that (on offense) because we were patient and we moved the ball and we got the ball in the right spots,'' McCallie said. ''That's important to us. We've got to play this game together.''

Tyaunna Marshall had 17 points on 5-of-18 shooting for Georgia Tech (20-11).

The Yellow Jackets remained winless against Duke in tournament games, lost in the league quarterfinals for the 23rd time in 29 years and have not beaten the Blue Devils since 1995.

Kaela Davis had 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting - and was 3 of 11 from 3-point range - for Georgia Tech.

The Blue Devils forced Tech into another terrible shooting performance: In the previous meeting, a 17-point Duke win in January, the Yellow Jackets shot 26 percent - which had been their worst of the season until this one.

On three different occasions Friday night, Tech missed at least seven consecutive shots.

''We weren't able to make shots,'' coach MaChelle Joseph said. ''When we can't make shots, we can't set our defense.''

Richa Jackson had 14 points while Liston matched the single-season record she set last year for the Blue Devils.

Williams blocked multiple shots for the eighth straight game despite the Yellow Jackets' best efforts to avoid her, Oderah Chidom and the Blue Devils' imposing front line.

Duke blocked 13 shots, outscored the Yellow Jackets 38-22 in the paint and outrebounded them 49-36.

''Blocked shots are just intimidating, honestly, and I think everyone contributed to that,'' Williams said.

The Yellow Jackets took their chances on the perimeter - where Duke is down two of its best guards in Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones. Both of them were on the bench in sweats, lost for the year with knee injuries.

And once Tech went cold, this one was effectively over.

Georgia Tech missed 17 of its last 20 shots of the half and went six minutes between field goals.

''I think that we got kind of on our heels,'' Joseph said. ''We hit a wall and we never really recovered. ... We didn't have much left in the second half.''

During that time, the Blue Devils started to grow their lead.

Duke outscored the Yellow Jackets 14-4 during the final 7:22 of the half, and went up 35-26 at the break on Ka'lia Johnson's 3 just before the buzzer.

Williams' layup 30 seconds into the second half gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead.

And then, by the time Jackson made it a 20-point game with 15 minutes left, Duke was on its way to improving to 6-0 against Georgia Tech in ACC tournament games.

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Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joedyap

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