DURHAM, North Carolina — Senior center Elizabeth Williams led No. 10 Duke to victory with her aggressive play after the Blue Devils got off to a slow start against Wake Forest.
Williams had 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in Sunday's 70-63 win in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams. She also made a career-high five steals, including a key one to stop a late Demon Deacons rally.
"I thought Elizabeth showed tremendous leadership and aggression on the floor," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It was really contagious. It was great to see her play so, so hard."
The Blue Devils (10-4, 1-0) won their 41st straight meeting over Wake Forest, but this was the smallest margin of victory in the last 18 games.
"We're obviously disappointed in the outcome," Wake Forest coach Jen Hoover said, "but we worked hard to come in and I felt like we got a lot of really good looks."
Wake Forest (9-6, 0-1) scored the first 10 points and built a 26-10 lead with 10:20 left in the half on Taylor Gordon's 3-pointer. But then Duke began chipping away thanks to its defense and three drawn charges.
"Any hustle play is always good for us," said senior guard Ka'Lia Johnson. "That fuels our offense."
Duke outscored Wake Forest 24-7 the rest of the half. The Blue Devils took a 34-33 lead into halftime after Oderah Chidom stole an inbounds pass in the backcourt and made a layup.
Duke then built a 15-point lead in the second half before holding on for the victory.
Johnson and freshman Rebecca Greenwell finished with 15 points each for the Blue Devils. Dearica Hamby, Nicole Floyd and Ataijah Taylor led Wake Forest with 11 points apiece.
Duke: Freshman guard Sierra Calhoun announced Sunday that she is transferring from Duke and is leaving school in good academic standing. The Brooklyn native had started all 13 games this season for Duke and was averaging 10.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals.
Wake Forest: All but six of the Demon Deacons' losses to Duke during the losing streak have been by double digits. ... Wake Forest is 0-3 on the road this season.
Duke finished with a season-high 15 blocks. That's one off the school record of 16, which the Blue Devils have accomplished twice.
Duke hosts Syracuse on Thursday.
Wake Forest plays at Virginia on Thursday.