Elizabeth Williams’ name can be heard among whispers for ACC Player of the Year, but as a freshman, the Duke center is still learning the game.
On Sunday, Williams went toe-to-toe with one of the most-experienced centers in the conference, North Carolina senior Chay Shegog.
And though Shegog put up a game-leading 22 points, it was the student — and not the teacher — who came away from Carmichael Arena victorious.
“(Shegog) is a great player, a solid post player, so I’m just learning a lot from playing against her,” said Williams, whose Blue Devils picked up a 69-63 win against UNC on Sunday.
“I just tried to do what I needed to do.”
And what Duke needed Sunday was for its post players to bear the offensive burden.
After shooting 50 percent from behind the arc against UNC three weeks ago, the Blue Devils could only muster two 3-pointers on 10 attempts Sunday.
So the Blue Devils turned their attention inside. And with her 13 points and nine rebounds, Williams led a post offense that amassed 40 points in the paint.
UNC, in contrast, had just 24.
“Now, that’s a good stat,” Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. “That’s a stat that we will live by and we will get passionate about.
“That’s our post players working their tails off. And that’s our guards working their tails off to get the ball in.”
As she has often done this season, Duke point guard Chelsea Gray played the role of facilitator, directing traffic to the likes of Williams, forward Haley Peters and backup center Allison Vernerey. Gray tallied seven assists in the matchup and entered Sunday as the conference’s leader in assists per game.
“I think it’s pretty interesting how they handle pressure. I mean, Chelsea sees a lot of pressure naturally,” McCallie said. “But still executing and getting paint points, that’s the difference in the game.”
For the Tar Heels, on senior day, it was the senior Shegog who once again provided the bulk of UNC’s offense. Shegog entered the matchup scoring 15.9 points per game — seven more points than any other Tar Heel player.
And on Sunday, Shegog scored 22 more, made six of seven free throws and held down the post.
Typically, that sort of production has been enough to carry UNC. But Shegog and the Tar Heels just couldn’t out-do the Williams-led Blue Devil frontcourt — a frontcourt that could be a force for years to come.
“Elizabeth Williams, she’s going to be a great player at Duke,” Shegog said. “I mean, she’s already a very good player now.
“I like playing against her, too. She’s a very good post defender, and I’m excited to watch her grow.”
Contact the Sports Editor at email@example.com.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.