Duke needed just one Senior Night victory to clinch the top seed for next week’s ACC Tournament.
And the No. 7 Blue Devils got it done, holding off No. 5 Miami 74-64 for their 30th straight conference victory in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Freshman center Elizabeth Williams led Duke (23-4, 14-1 ACC) with 19 points and nine rebounds, followed by Chelsea Gray with 12 points and nine assists.
Haley Peters chipped in 12 points and Allison Vernerey 10 off the bench, just her fourth double-figure game this season.
“It was just a great basketball game,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I was proud of our team and our effort. I really liked our aggressiveness in the second half, particularly the rebounding. Miami is an excellent team, and boy do they have some shooters. But Elizabeth was on it, just on it, and Chelsea was spot-on with her ball movement.”
Shenise Johnson led the way with 18 points for Miami (24-4, 13-2), which is in its seventh season under Duke alumna Katie Meier. Riquna Williams added 17 points and Stefanie Yderstrom 16.
“Congratulations to Duke,” Meier said. “Their (50) points in the paint absolutely killed us. We didn’t turn them over as much as we need to, but that’s hard to do. They’re really good. … I’m happy for them. I’m happy for the ACC. I think those kids are awesome. We want the best and we want this conference to be the best.”
Duke, which outscored the Hurricanes 50-16 in the paint, shot 48.5 percent for the game to Miami’s 33.3. Miami won the rebound battle 44-37 but committed 21 turnovers to 12 for Duke.
“The physical play (in this game) was to be expected,” Elizabeth Williams said. “You have to go out and play hard, but play composed. I tried to kick the ball out if I saw I was being doubled or that someone was open. That’s just college basketball, especially with the events coming up. I just have to maintain my composure.”
The Blue Devils led 38-28 at halftime, and stretched it to 67-53 on a Peters layup with 5:41 to go. Miami cut it to 67-64 on a pair of Sylvia Bullock free throws with 1:52 remaining.
But Gray took over at that point, hitting a driving layup to make it 69-64 at 1:13 and then adding a pair of free throws with 46 ticks left to make it 71-64 and essentially seal the outcome.
“Everything we didn’t do in the Maryland game (a 63-61 road loss on Sunday) we wanted to do in this game,” Gray said. “All our anger was put into this game, and all of the things we didn’t do well in that game we did well in this one. We were not losing this game.”