Blue Devils take a blow - Williams suffers stress fracture heading into NCAA Tournament

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DURHAM, N.C. -  After posting one of the best rookie campaigns in Duke and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) history, Duke University freshman Elizabeth Williams will have to deal with a stress fracture in her right lower leg as the sixth-ranked and second-seeded Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

Williams, who was selected the 2012 ESPN.com National Rookie of the Year, is expected to play during the tournament and will take time off following the season to recover from her injury.

The injury adds to the long list of adversity the Blue Devils have dealt with this season with the loss of Richa Jackson, Amber Henson and Chloe Wells.  Jackson started 17 games before tearing her ACL on Feb. 15  and will miss the rest of the season, while Henson arrived at Duke with a knee injury and was never fully healthy before having surgery on Jan. 6.  Both Jackson and Henson were McDonald’s All-America selections.  Wells started the first 10 contests before missing the second semester due to a violation of University policy.

Williams has led the sixth-ranked Blue Devils this season, averaging 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, 1.6 steals and 1.5 assists.   The ACC Defensive Player of the Year, ACC Rookie of the Year and an All-ACC First Team selection, Williams is also one of 15 finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, which honors the national player of the year.

A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Williams tied the ACC single season record with nine ACC Rookie of the Week selections this season and became Duke’s fourth Blue Devil to be named ACC Rookie of the Year.  Her nine weekly selections matched a record set in 1992-93 by Wake Forest’s Tracy Connor.

The 6-3 center became just the third freshman in league history to be named to the All-ACC first team.  She ranks second nationally with a 3.8 blocks per game average and owns the ACC freshman record for blocks in a season with 109.  Williams also became the first league freshman to be named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.  Her 109 blocked shots is more than 201 Division I women’s basketball teams.

The Blue Devils are seeded No. 2 in the Fresno Region and will take on 15th-seeded Samford on Sunday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m., on ESPN2.  The game will take place in Nashville, Tenn.