ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Alana Beard has gotten all the
attention for Duke this season.
But Iciss Tillis and Mistie Bass helped the Blue Devils reach
the Midwest Regional final.
The 6-foot-4 Tillis scored 21 points in Duke's 66-63 win over
Georgia in the semifinals. Bass scored 10 straight points over a 3½-
minute stretch in second half that gave Duke the lead for good.
Tillis, who spends as much time outside the 3-point line as
underneath the basket, hit 9 of 16 shots and was 3-for-6 on
3-pointers. Top-seed Duke (34-1) next plays No. 2 seed Texas Tech
(29-5) on Monday for a chance to go to the Final Four.
"I'm just an odd person, what can I say," Tillis said of her
penchant for 3-pointers. "Ever since I started playing, I've loved
to shoot the 3."
Both players also have interesting backgrounds.
Tillis' father is former heavyweight boxer James "Quick"
Tillis, who 17 years ago became the first boxer to go the distance
against Mike Tyson. Tillis lost the 10-round decision.
Bass is the daughter of '60s rock 'n' roll recording star Chubby
Checker. The 6-3 Bass said her father knows very little about
basketball, but talks to her almost daily during the NCAA
"He says it's exciting and not good for his health," Bass
Bass started playing basketball in fourth grade. Being the
second tallest kid in the class helped. She went on to star at
Parker High School in Janesville, Wis., then chose Duke over
Duke has struggled on offense throughout the tournament. The
Blue Devils shot 41 percent against Georgia and the 66 points was
the most they scored in three tournament wins.
Even Beard, who averaged 22 points a game during the season,
never got going Saturday and scored just 12 points. She sprained
her ankle after the Blue Devils' first round win over Georgia State
and played tentatively against Georgia.
"It's not a big deal," Beard said Sunday. "We won, didn't
Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said it's only a matter of time
before Duke has a breakout game.
"I just hope it's not tomorrow night," Sharp said.
Texas Tech cruised into the regional title game with a 71-48 win
over New Mexico. The Lady Raiders dominated the Lobos with their
quickness and defense, silencing the sellout partisan New Mexico
crowd of 16,182.
Tillis will go against Tech center Plenette Pierson, who had 16
points and eight rebounds against New Mexico. Pierson prefers to
work closer to the basket, but will spend much time outside on
defense because of Tillis.
"Iciss gives them a whole different look because she prefers to
stay around the 3-point line rather than get down around the
block," Sharp said. "She's going to stretch our defense."
But Sharp said it could be reserves like Bass or Tech's Casey
Jackson -- who had nine points and 11 rebounds against New Mexico --
that decide Monday's game.
"In these games the great players may neutralize each other and
it's some of those other players that step up and make plays to
give you a chance to win," she said. "I would expect that to
happen from both sides."
A win would put Duke in the Final Four for the third time in
five years. Texas Tech's only previous trip to the Final Four was
in 1993, when it won the national title.