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Duke's Williams is player of week

Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.

After three straight losses and a week of finals exams, Duke needed everything Elizabeth Williams had to offer.

For the past three seasons, that largely meant anchoring the post, rebounding and blocking shots. But leadership responsibilities have been added to Williams' responsibilities this season as three freshmen and a fellow senior with limited experience joined her in the Blue Devils' starting lineup.

In three wins this past week, Williams delivered on all counts. The 6-foot-3 senior dominated the lane en route to a 26-point, 20-rebound effort in Tuesday's 92-72 victory over Oklahoma. That was the start of a three-game winning streak and helped earn Williams espnW's national player of the week honors.

Williams produced just the third 20-20 game in Duke history, joining Chris Moreland and Barbara Krause in the exclusive club. Williams' 14 first-half boards were more than the entire Sooners' team.

That effort could not have come at a better time for the Blue Devils, who dropped three in a row to teams ranked in the top 12 -- Texas, Nebraska and South Carolina -- by a total of 11 points. Williams missed two of those games with a foot injury and then foul trouble plagued her return against the Gamecocks.

After a routine 12-point, seven-rebound performance in 22 minutes during a predictably easy win over UMass-Lowell, Williams and Duke were right back at what might be the toughest schedule in the country. No. 8 Kentucky came to Cameron on Sunday and was dominated by the Blue Devils, 89-68, with Williams recording the 21st double-double of her career (13 points, 10 rebounds).

Williams also provided plenty of her trademark -- the blocked shot. She collected 10 this week and her 3.4 per game average this season is good for eighth in the country.

Williams' three-game performance might just be enough to propel Duke back into the top 10 just in time for a Dec. 29 showdown versus Connecticut in Hartford (ESPN2/WatchESPN, 9 p.m. ET). It will be another night when the Blue Devils need everything that Williams can bring.

Also nominated: Nina Davis, Baylor; Melissa Dixon, Iowa; Aerial Powers, Michigan State; Courtney Williams, South Florida.

Previous players of the week: Nov. 24: Stanford's Lili Thompson | Dec. 1: Chattanooga's Gilbert | Dec. 8: UConn's Tuck | Dec. 15: Notre Dame's Loyd