Duke hoping to deliver first title this season

Updated: March 25, 2006, 6:27 PM ET
Associated Press

Both teams have enjoyed a lot of postseason success the past few seasons. And both have had a rare win over the Connecticut Huskies on their homecourt over the past two years. They just aren't at all familiar with each other.

In the first regional semifinal Sunday night (ESPN2, 7 ET) in the Bridgeport Regional, top-seeded Duke (28-3) plays No. 4 Michigan State (24-9).

The Blue Devils have made it to the round of 16 for the ninth straight year and are meeting the Spartans for the first time in the NCAA Tournament.

Their only matchup was 11 years ago in the title game of the Duke Classic, which the Blue Devils won 67-52.

Duke brings plenty of experience to the postseason, reaching the Big Dance 13 times with two Final Four appearances. Seniors Monique Curry, Mistie Williams and Jessica Foley aim to be the group that delivers coach Gail Goestenkors her first national championship.

"Coach G has put so much into this program since she's been here,'' Willliams said. "She's had so many opportunities. This year is different than the other years I've been here because every one on this team is so close. We're trying to win it for each other.''

Michigan State, last year's national runner-up, sports the program's winningest duo in seniors Lindsay Bowen and Liz Shimek with 96 career wins. They started every game of their careers while rewriting the record books. Shimek is the Spartans' all-time leader in points (1,775 points) and rebounds (1,123) and field goals (717). Bowen holds the 3-point record (292).

"This is a fun time for seniors,'' Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I think of it as a new beginning instead of an end. Liz and Lindsay are extraordinary people. What they have given to Michigan State is remarkable.''


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press