Iona struggles in 100-31 loss at No. 3 Duke

Last Updated: Sun, Nov 18, 2012 21:45 hrs

Iona had no answer for Allison Vernerey — and no chance against No. 3 Duke.

The Gaels allowed Vernerey to match a career high with 22 points — 20 in the first half — and the Blue Devils routed them 100-31 on Sunday.

"They're really good, and we struggled with their length and athleticism," Iona coach Anthony Bozzella said. "Obviously, their goal's to be in the Final Four. Anything less than that would be an utter disappointment. Our goal is to just get better every day."

Joy Adams had 10 rebounds for the Gaels (2-2), who didn't have a double-figure scorer, were held to two field goals during an early 11½-minute stretch when it got out of hand, and fell to 0-13 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

They let Vernerey score at will early in this one, and were outscored 53-13 during the final 16½ minutes of the first half. The 6-foot-5 senior made nine of her first 10 shots and needed only five minutes to reach double figures.

"I was glad for Vernerey in a way, in that she's worked really hard and I've seen her ... she went left in the post, she went right in the post," Bozzella said. "And for them to be an elite team — a Final Four-type team — she's going to have to give them significant minutes."

Chelsea Gray had 18 points and Elizabeth Williams added 16 in limited duty for Duke (2-0), which hit the 100-point mark for the first time since a 107-45 win over UNC Wilmington last December — also the only other time Vernerey scored this many points.

Duke shot 48.7 percent in this one while holding Iona to 17 percent shooting and matching its second-most lopsided victory under sixth-year coach Joanne P. McCallie.

"I think it's more a question of the rhythm of having my teammates hitting me in the right spot," Vernerey said. "When you start like that, people look for you more. I got some great passes, which made the finish easier."

The Blue Devils had a 56-37 rebounding advantage and had 26 assists on their 37 field goals. Each of the eight scholarship players who played for Duke had at least five rebounds.

Tricia Liston scored 12 points and Haley Peters had 11 for Duke, the last Top 25 team to start its season.

The Blue Devils didn't get started until Saturday night, when they thumped Presbyterian 84-45, and the quick turnaround didn't seem to affect them at all — since they claimed their most lopsided victory since an 89-point win over North Carolina Central in 2009.

They didn't need much from one of their stars. Williams, the ACC's reigning rookie and defensive player of the year, has been hampered by a stress fracture in her right leg since the NCAA tournament in March.

She played 18 minutes and didn't enter until the 11-minute mark of the first half — when the Blue Devils already were up by 16.

"Happy with bold caps, maybe, to see her have some fun out there," McCallie said. "I thought she made her presence known in 18 minutes, which is a good thing."

Forward Richa Jackson (knee), guard Chloe Wells (leg) and forward Amber Henson (knee) sat out for Duke.

Those three could afford to rest and heal, because Vernerey and Gray essentially ended this one well before halftime. Vernerey regularly took pretty feeds from Gray and turned them into layups in the post, making them with both hands while facing little resistance from the smaller Gaels.

Meanwhile, when she wasn't scoring, Gray put on quite a show with her passing — connecting on behind-the-back and blind over-the-shoulder passes to Vernerey and Williams. Gray finished the first half with seven assists.

"She is the best passer, male or female, in this country," McCallie said.

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