|NCAA Women's Basketball|
Williams leads Duke women over St. John's
By DOUG FEINBERG
NEW YORK (AP) It's tough to tell that Duke star Elizabeth Williams hasn't been practicing much this season.
Williams, who is still recovering from a stress fracture in her left leg that has bothered her for the last eight months, had 16 points, seven rebounds and five blocks to lead No. 4 Duke to a 60-42 victory over St. John's on Sunday in the seventh annual Maggie Dixon Classic.
"She's doing OK," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It's hard for her and we're not out of the woods yet. We take it day by day with her. She's learning how to play with less practice time. She's not practicing and doing half of what the other kids are. It's going to take some time."
The reigning ACC rookie and defensive player of the year is still trying to work her way back. She doesn't practice every day and even then takes drills off.
"I'm feeling good, just trying to get into a rhythm, get a lot of rebounds early," the 6-foot-3 post player said.
Haley Peters added 11 points for the Blue Devils (8-0), who are off for the next week for exams.
"It's really unbelievable to have the opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden," Peters said. "It's so cool, we walked down the hallway to our locker room and there were photos of Elton John, John Lennon, Beyonce."
Peters also knew the basketball history of the building, admitting she had played her before as a young girl with the girl scouts.
"You go in and see the jerseys hanging up there it gives you the chills," she said.
The two teams met last season in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals and the Blue Devils routed the Red Storm 74-47.
"It's nice to be familiar with a team and considering they have all the same people we tried to see some of the good things we did last year and make adjustments to help us."
Nadirah McKenith had 19 points to lead St. John's (4-3).
Trailing 11-10 early on, Duke scored 15 of the next 17 points to take control. Williams' three-point play made it 17-11 and Alexis Jones' layup capped the burst. St. John's cut its deficit to nine before Duke closed the half with an 8-2 run to go up 36-21.
McKenith tried to keep the Red Storm in the game, scoring the team's first 12 points in the second half, but St. John's couldn't get within single digits because of Williams.
"She's a great player, she's an All-American," St. John's coach Joe Tartamella said. "Elizabeth Williams is a tremendous talent."
The Red Storm are still trying to find themselves after losing senior guard Eugeneia McPherson to an ACL injury two weeks ago. St. John's has lost both its games without her.
"I've talked about Eugeneia for years, she's our glue player," Tartamella said. "She brought a confidence and quiet confidence to our group. We're finding ourselves, our identity is forever changing."
Rutgers (5-3) routed Louisiana Tech 73-46 in the first game of the women's doubleheader. That contest marked the return of former New York Liberty star Teresa Weatherspoon to the Garden as the coach of the Lady Techsters.
Weatherspoon played for the Liberty from 1997-2003, guiding them to four WNBA finals appearances. She's coached the Lady Techsters (2-5) to winning seasons in each of her first four years at the school, where she was a star guard in the 1980s.
Weatherspoon won the Maggie Dixon rookie coach of the year in 2010. Rutgers was playing in the event for the fifth time.
The doubleheader is played in honor of Maggie Dixon, the former Army women's basketball coach who died in April 2006, of arrhythmia, probably caused by an enlarged heart. Her death came three weeks after her first season as a head coach, where she led Army to its first NCAA berth.
The first Maggie Dixon Classic was held at Army in 2006 - a men's and women's doubleheader. The Pittsburgh men, coached by Maggie's brother Jamie, beat Western Michigan. The last six classics have been played at Madison Square Garden.
"It's still emotional, It's exciting. Everyone wants to be a part of this event," Jamie Dixon said. "It's not hard to find the best teams in the country. We're excited to have the four teams we had today."
Along with games at the Garden, there was a health and heart expo.
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Updated December 9, 2012