Duke rallies to beat Alabama 74-71

Photos by Dominic Ceraldi

Graduate student Jade Williams registered two layups in the last 30 seconds as the Duke women’s basketball team came-from-behind to defeat Alabama, 74-71, on Sunday afternoon in the Maggie Dixon Classic, played at Ed and Rae Schollmeier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Williams, a product of The Colony, Texas, made the return to her home state of Texas and scored all 14 of her points, a season high, in the second half to help lead Duke to its fourth straight victory to open the 2021-22 campaign. Junior Celeste Taylor also added a season-high 21 points, while graduate student Lexi Gordon chipped in 11 points in her return to her hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

Duke built an early nine-point lead in the first quarter and held a 20-14 advantage at the end of the period after holding the Crimson Tide without a field goal for the final 4:31 of the stanza. Taylor and Gordon paced the Blue Devils through the first 10 minutes with six and five points, respectively.

The Blue Devils opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer from Taylor to take a 23-14 lead, but Alabama made an 8-0 run of its own to cut the Duke lead to 23-22. The Crimson Tide evened the contest, 25-25, at the 6:14 mark of the second quarter. The Blue Devil defense forced three turnovers in a span of 1:50 and Duke led, 27-25. Freshman Shayeann Day-Wilson added a couple of free throws as time expired to give Duke a 34-30 halftime advantage.

Turnovers kept the game close as the Blue Devils committed 11 in the first half, while Duke’s defense limited Alabama to 33.3 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes. The Crimson Tide scored 11 of their 30 points from the charity stripe and held a 17-11 lead on the boards.

Taylor paced the Blue Devils with 13 points, while Day-Wilson and sophomore Vanessa de Jesus added seven and six points, respectively.

Duke built a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but Alabama once again made a run of its own, cutting the Blue Devil lead to 45-44. The Crimson Tide went on a 6-0 run late in the third to take their largest lead of the contest, 52-49, but senior Onome Akinbode-James’ layup as time expired pulled Duke within one heading into the final frame.


Alabama opened the fourth with a 5-0 run to go ahead, 57-51, before Taylor drained her third trey of the contest. Duke responded by hitting four straight field goals to cut the Tide lead to 63-60.

The Blue Devils trailed by six, 69-63, with 2:19 remaining, but hit 7-of-9 field goals down the stretch and received back-to-back lead-changing buckets from Williams.

With 30 seconds remaining, Williams grabbed an offensive rebound and put back the layup to give Duke a 70-69 lead. Alabama’s Megan Abrams came back with a layup of her own to give the Crimson Tide the 71-70 advantage with 18 seconds left on the clock.

After Duke called a timeout, Taylor found Williams for a layup with six seconds remaining to put the Blue Devils ahead for good, 72-71. The Duke defense clamped down on Alabama at the end forcing Abrams to miss a layup and Akinbode-James added two free throws at the end to give Duke the 74-71 victory.

Abrams scored a game-high 27 points for the Crimson Tide.