Duke guard Chelsea Gray (12) goes to the basket against Georgia Tech guard Merta Walthour during the second half of an NCCA basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in Duluth, Ga. Duke won 79-62. (AP Photo/John Amis)
DULUTH -- As much size as Georgia Tech's women's basketball team has, it's not often an opponent can push the Yellow Jackets around.
Yet, Duke has some good size of its own, and the fifth-ranked Blue Devils flexed their muscles in Wednesday's Atlantic Coast Conference matchup with the Jackets behind 6-foot-3 freshman Elizabeth Williams and 6-0 sophomore Richa Jackson.
Williams posted her fourth double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds and added five blocked shots, while Jackson was a career-best 8 of 9 from the field on her way to 17 points as Duke rolled to a 79-62 win before 950 fans at The Arena at Gwinnett Center.
"First of all, I want to give Duke a lot of credit," Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said in her postgame press conference. "I thought that they made a lot of shots tonight -- more shots than I've seen them make in all the games I watched on tape. I really thought they came out and hit the open jump shots. I thought Williams was very impressive inside the way she finished. We just couldn't get defensive stops when we needed to."
Indeed, Duke (15-2 overall, 6-0 in the ACC) hit a lot of shots -- 33 on 53 attempts from the floor, or 62.3 percent, to be exact, the highest percentage the Blue Devils have shot in Joanne McCallie's five seasons as head coach.
It helped that many of them came inside, with the Blue Devils scoring 48 of their 79 points -- or 24 of their 33 field goals -- in the paint, compared to just 34 points in the lane for Tech (13-6, 3-3), most of which came from Sasha Goodlet, who led all scorers with 25 points.
"Paint points are very important," McCallie said. "If you look at us, 48 to 34, that's the game right there. That's what we try to preach to our team. It's OK to shoot (jump) shots and put up 3s, but you've got to take care of the paint, you've got to look at the block and you've got to be attacking, and I thought our team was."
Duke imposed its will in the paint early in the first half.
The Blue Devils shot a sizzling 76.5 percent (13 of 17) from the floor over the first 9:36 of the opening frame, including eight layups -- three each by Williams and Jackson, who combined for 25 points in the half -- and held a 19-11 advantage on the boards to build as much as a 16-point lead.
The lead was 28-14 following a Williams layup with 10:24 left in the half before Tech began to push back with some fullcourt pressure.
The Jackets forced the bulk of Duke's 13 first-half turnovers over the remainder of the half and turned them into 11 points to slowly pull back into the game.
A 13-5 run over a span of 4:02 cut the Blue Devils' lead to 33-27 with 5:58 left in the half, and four of Sasha Goodlet's 15 first-half points ended another run that helped Tech go into intermission down the same six-point margin at 43-37.
"When we started pressing, we really got into them, and we cut the game down," said sophomore guard Tyaunna Marshall, who had one of 13 Tech steals on the night and was the Jackets' only other player in double-figure scoring with 13 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds. "We had an inside presence from Sasha, and our guards knew what we had to do. So, we ... put pressure on the ball and I feel like we cut (the lead) down pretty good."
And when Goodlet hit a layup in the paint 38 seconds into the second half, and then added one of two free throws 1:18 later, the Jackets were as close as 43-40 with 17:54 still to play.
But Duke, which was playing in its third game in six days, got its second wind, and used a 12-3 run -- keyed by six points from Shay Selby -- to push a six-point lead out to 16 at 63-47 following Selby's three-point play with 10:27 remaining.
Tech pulled as close as 10 points one more time after Frida Fogdemark's two free throws with 5:13 left, but Jackson penetrated the lane and fed Allison Vernerey for another layup -- one of Jackson's four assists on the night -- to push the lead back to 12 on the next trip down.
"Ball movement is key, especially going against the press," Jackson said. "You don't want to dribble too much. You want to pass the ball to keep your spacing. We did that (Wednesday) night, and we got many fastbreak points."
Duke also got 16 points and four assists from Chelsea Gray.