HANK KURZ Jr.
AP Sports Writer
BLACKSBURG, Va. - Midway through the second half of a 77-33 victory at Virginia Tech, Hokies' fans began screaming in the direction of Joanne P. McCallie. They wanted the coach of No. 5 Duke to call off the dogs and get her dominating starters out of the game.
McCallie ignored them, and kept shuttling her stars in until less than 5 minutes remained.
"This is not high school," she said later, laughing at the notion that the fans were angry.
Turns out, the Blue Devils (23-1, 13-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have dominated every team but one on their schedule, and the game they lost wasn't close -- a 79-49 drubbing at No. 3 Connecticut on Jan. 21. That game stays with Duke still.
"They played harder for longer than we did. That's something that we think about a lot," said McCallie, whose team has been the NCAA quarterfinals three straight years, but hasn't gone further in that time. "We've got to go back there every game."
Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters each matched their career high with 25 points Thursday night as No. 5 Duke took a big early lead against overmatched Virginia Tech and cruised to its seventh straight victory, 77-33. The Blue Devils forced 18 first-half turnovers and led 40-14 at the half in winning their 29th consecutive road victory against an unranked opponent.
"You're always playing for the highest level," McCallie said. "All these games are opportunities to get better, to grow and do new things. ... It's always getting ready, to me, for the NCAA tournament. It's always getting ready for opponents."
And dominating was fun, said Williams, who played 29 minutes and added seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
"It's definitely fun. Like coach P. said, each game is an opportunity to get better and one of our focuses was coming off the Maryland game with another strong game instead of being lax, and I think we did that."
They also had an easy mark to do it against, especially with the Hokies being without frontcourt players Taijah Campbell and Uju Ugoka, both of whom are nursing injuries. The loss Thursday night was the 11th in 12 games for Virginia Tech (8-16, 2-11), and its second lopsided setback against the Blue Devils this season. Duke won 58-26 on Jan. 14 at home.
Once the team's postgame obligations were fulfilled, coach Dennis Wolff said the game was history.
"We won't have any conversations about this tomorrow. We'll just prepare for Clemson," he said.
Alyssa Fenyn led Virginia Tech with seven points and Lauren Evans had six.
The game got out of hand almost immediately.
Peters, who was scoreless in the Blue Devils' 15-point victory against No. 7 Maryland on Monday night, made the first of her four 3-pointers 13 seconds into the game. She added a jumper and another 3-pointer with the game barely 2 minutes old.
"I wasn't happy with how I played last game," she said of an 0-for-2, three-rebound effort.
After Laura Evans' baseline 10-footer for the Hokies, Alexis Jones scored on a drive for Duke and Williams scored the next four points to make it 14-2 after 4:05. The Hokies pulled within 21-9 on Fenyn's desperate, one-footed heave to barely beat the shot clock with 12:18 to go in the half, then managed just two field goals to rest of the way to trail 40-14 at the half.
They also committed 12 of their 18 first-half turnovers in the drought, often by overpassing, or passing up shots.
"That's a problem for us," Wolff said. "We pass up what we as a coaching staff think are good shots and then end up toward the end of the shot clock struggling to get a shot up."
Just for good measure, Williams scored the first six points of the second half, sparking a 16-7 run, and it wasn't until 15 minutes remained the Hokies' point total exceeded their turnovers.
Until Fenyn's 3-pointer 1:37 before halftime, Williams (14) and Peters (13) were both outscoring the Hokies, who shot just 33 percent (6 of 18) even though Fenyn was 3 for 3.
Virginia Tech finished 15 of 54 from the field (27.8 percent) and had 23 turnovers.
Duke shot 46.3 percent (25 of 54) with 10 steals and six blocks.
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