No. 1 Devils down to eight scholarship players

Updated: January 11, 2005, 3:46 PM ET news services

DURHAM, N.C. -- Duke point guard Lindsey Harding will miss the rest of the season after being suspended for a violation of team rules, coach Gail Goestenkors said Tuesday.

Harding was originally suspended indefinitely on Nov. 1. She can continue to practice with the team, Goestenkors said in a statement released by the school. Harding, who is academically eligible, is expected to return next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

"Lindsey is still very much a part of our team and will continue to help us in practice situations," Goestenkors said. "She will provide leadership from the sidelines as well as in practice. I look forward to her playing again next season."

With Harding out and guard Caitlin Howe to undergo knee surgery that likely will keep her sidelined at least six weeks, the top-ranked Blue Devils (15-1) are down to eight scholarship players, the second time in four seasons that has happened.

In 2002, Duke was down to eight players after two players transferred in December. The Blue Devils still swept the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season schedule, won the league tournament and advanced to the Final Four before losing to Oklahoma.

A native of Houston, Harding started 33 games last season as a sophomore, averaging 6.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists. She was a third-team All-ACC selection and fell two assists shy of the program's single-season record of 168.

"Once again, I apologize and feel like I let down myself, my team, my coaches and Duke University," Harding said. "This has been a very difficult time and I appreciate all the support everyone has given me. I will continue to work very hard in practice, in the classroom and look forward to playing again next season."

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.