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Duke unloads on UNC Wilmington for 62-point victory

DURHAM, N.C. -- Allison Vernerey nearly had a perfect night.
So did the rest of her Duke teammates.

Vernerey scored 18 of her career-high 22 points in the decisive
first half, and the ninth-ranked Blue Devils forced 40 turnovers in
a 107-45 rout of UNC Wilmington on Tuesday night.

Tricia Liston added 18 points and Elizabeth Williams finished
with 16 for Duke (8-2), which shot 57 percent, never trailed, built
a 41-24 rebounding advantage and used a dominating start that
included three overwhelming runs to claim a second straight
lopsided victory since a loss at No. 8 Kentucky.

"In general, the energy was high, which I was able to feed of,
and it really helped me keep going," Vernerey said. "It was a
really, really good group effort."

Abria Trice had 12 points for UNC Wilmington, but the Seahawks
(5-5) had nearly as many turnovers (21) as points (22) in the first
half. They fell to 0-22 against ranked opponents and had their
three-game winning streak snapped.

Chelsea Gray finished with 14 points and 10 of Duke's
school-record 36 assists.

"I think we were awesome" passing the ball, Liston said. "The
stats said that, too."

Chloe Wells added 11 points for Duke, which scored 78 points in
the paint and turned UNC Wilmington's turnovers into 56 points.

"We didn't play hard. We played tentative," Seahawks coach
Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. "We didn't run the floor well. We didn't
defend at all. And that combination is just really, really bad."

The Blue Devils won their 30th straight at Cameron Indoor
Stadium and finished with their highest point total since a 117-28
victory against North Carolina Central in December 2009. It also
was the most points ever allowed by UNC Wilmington.

Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said her team is "coming closer
to attacking for 40 minutes."

Her team was playing its only game in a span of nearly three
weeks. The Blue Devils have been off since Dec. 11 and don't play
again until a Dec. 30 trip to Temple.

In that last outing, Williams was perfect, hitting all 10 of her
shots.

This time it was Vernerey's turn to flirt with perfection.

She made all eight of her attempts in the first half, helping
Duke built a 33-point lead at the break. The only question after
halftime was whether she would match the school-record 12-for-12
performance set by Sheana Mosch against Clemson in 2001.

It didn't happen: Vernerey missed a contested layup with about
13½ minutes left and finished 10 of 11.

But that was about the only thing that didn't go Duke's way. In
their first game since a 58-point romp against South Carolina Upstate, the
Blue Devils showed few signs of rust in putting the Seahawks in a
deep, early hole.

Duke opened the game with a 14-1 run that included nine UNC
Wilmington turnovers, with Gray capping the burst with a layup 5½ minutes in. After the Seahawks briefly chipped away at the
lead, the Blue Devils responded with runs of 12-2 and 25-5 to push
the lead well into the 30s.

Liston scored nine points during that last run that ended the
half. Vernerey added eight during the burst, capped by a layup with
just under a minute left that made it 55-22.

"Because we didn't execute offensively and we turned the ball
over, Duke was able to get out (in transition)," Cooper-Dyke said.
"And because we didn't defend in the half court, Duke was able to
really pick us clean and get any shot they wanted."

Tawanna Lee finished with 11 points for the Seahawks, who
haven't beaten Duke since 1982. Leading scorer Alisha Andrews, who
averages nearly 15 points, finished with nine on 2-of-7 shooting
and had 13 turnovers.