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March 5, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The top-seeded and eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils held off a feisty Maryland team to claim a 66-64 victory Friday afternoon in the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament and advance to Saturday's semifinal contest against Georgia Tech.
After falling behind early, Duke bounced back to take a 32-31 lead with 2:52 to play in the first half. Although Maryland kept it close - trailing by no more than five points in the final 10 minutes - the Terrapins took the lead just once the rest of the way, a 63-62 advantage with 2:29 remaining. Bridgette Mitchell reclaimed the lead for the Blue Devils with two free throws 10 seconds later as Duke secured its 15th consecutive appearance in the tournament's semifinals.
"I liked our attack and finish and composure down the stretch," said Duke coach Joanne McCallie. "Maryland is a very, very good team. They are enormously talented. They have the best inside player in the league on their team, plus the best 3-point shooter, proven by her statistics. So for us it was a very challenging battle."
First-team All-ACC honoree Jasmine Thomas scored a game-high 21 points and Duke played stingy defense to defeat ninth-seeded Maryland for the third time this season. The Blue Devils registered 10 steals, including four thefts plus forcing a shot clock violation in the final four and a half minutes.
"We battled, we competed for 40 minutes and were right there," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. "You have to give credit to Duke. Their defense was tremendous."
Maryland, which lost to Duke by just one earlier this year in College Park, jumped out to a 20-9 lead as Duke turned over the ball six times in the first eight minutes. The Blue Devils recovered, however, as Thomas (11 first-half points) and Joy Cheek (10 of her 14 points in the first half) paced Duke to a 37-32 halftime lead.
Lynetta Kizer scored 16 points to lead Maryland in scoring. Anjale Barrett (15), Lori Bjork (14) and Jackie Nared (10) also scored in double digits for the Terrapins, who fell to 19-13 on the season. Duke, which has won seven of its last eight games, improved to 25-5 on the year.