- Graham Hays, espnW.com
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Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
There are difficult days ahead for Duke, but Tricia Liston made sure her team will face them with a winning streak.
The big news emanating from Sunday's game between Duke and Wake Forest was a dislocated knee that will force junior point guard Chelsea Gray to miss at least the remainder of the regular season, if not longer. But that unfortunate news had the spotlight entirely to itself in Durham because Duke did not also lose at home against Wake Forest in what would have been its first conference loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium in more than five calendar years.
The Blue Devils didn't lose in large part because they had Liston, espnW's national player of the week.
Coming off the bench, a role for which Duke might no longer have the luxury of using her, the junior scored a career-best 29 points and finished with nine rebounds in an 81-70 win that kept her team perfect in ACC play. She scored 21 points in the second half, bringing the Blue Devils back off the ropes after Gray went down with her injury midway through the first half.
Following two free throws by Elizabeth Williams that gave Duke a 69-67 lead after the Demon Deaons twice rallied to draw even in the closing minutes, Liston's fifth 3-pointer of the game effectively put things out of reach at 72-67.
On the day, Liston hit 8-of-12 shots. The rest of the team shot 34 percent.
"I think Tricia Liston's leadership was tremendous," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "She led in attacking and working with her team. She was basically the point guard out there and ran the show."
And if Liston was vital Sunday in stepping up in place of Gray, she was also instrumental in Duke's more typical big win against Maryland on Monday. Gray was the star of the show against the Terrapins, but Liston ably filled a leading support role with 17 points and six rebounds in a 71-56 win, making a major impact even in a game in which she hit just a single 3-pointer.
Gray's teammates are all going to have to do their part to make up for her absence in the days ahead.
Liston gave them a pretty good blueprint at the end of a long but successful week.
Kelsey Minato, Army:
Army, which has not made the NCAA tournament since the Maggie Dixon 2005-06 season, moved into first place in the Patriot League (and 19-6 overall) after Minato starred in wins against former leader Navy and Lafayette. A 5-foot-8 freshman and the Patriot League's leading scorer in conference play, Minato had 20 points and six rebounds in a 70-57 win against Lafayette and 19 points and six rebounds in a 48-40 victory at Navy. She played all 40 minutes in both games.
Toni Young, Oklahoma State: In a pair of important victories last week, the 6-2 senior forward came up big. She tallied 23 points on 11-of-18 shooting and added 18 rebounds in a victory over Kansas State, then added 12 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks in a win over West Virginia.