Scores

Final

Texas Tech 51

(29-6, 13-3 Big 12)

Duke 57

(35-1, 16-0 ACC)

    9:30 PM ET, March 31, 2003

    The Pit/Bob King Court, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    1 2 T
    TTU 21 3051
    DUKE 26 3157

    Beard plus defense equals back-to-back Final Four trips

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- All Duke needed to get back to the Final Four was Alana Beard, and a great night on defense.

    Beard scored 28 points as the top-seeded Blue Devils rallied to beat No. 2 Texas Tech 57-51 in the Midwest Regional final Monday night.

    Duke (35-1) will take its 15-game winning streak to Atlanta, where it will play Tennessee (32-4) in the national semifinals Sunday night. The Lady Vols advanced to their 14th Final Four with a 73-49 win over Villanova in the Mideast Regional final.

    "Alana is an All-American, and it showed tonight,'' Texas Tech freshman point guard Erin Grant said. "She's the type of player that will put her team on her back and take them where they want to go.''

    Duke struggled on offense through its first three games in the tournament and still hasn't scored more than 66 points. The shooting problems continued Monday night, but the Blue Devils made up for it with defense and Beard's court savvy and clutch scoring.

    Besides scoring nearly half of Duke's points, Beard had eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

    And she gave this evaluation of her game: "It's all about being patient and looking for open shots.''

    Her three-point play with 1:55 left broke a 51-51 tie, and Duke forced three Texas Tech turnovers in the final minute. With Duke ahead 54-51, Iciss Tillis blocked a shot by Tech's Plenette Pierson with 30 seconds left to ensure the Blue Devils' third trip to the Final Four in the last five years.

    "She got up and got a ball I thought I was going to make,'' Pierson said. "I think that was the turning point in the game.''

    Duke's Michele Matyasovsky hit two free throws with 23.9 seconds left, and Beard made a free throw with 14 seconds remaining for the final points.

    Pierson, who missed two free throws with 40.5 seconds left, led Texas Tech (29-6) with 17 points and 17 rebounds. But the Red Raiders missed 23 of their 31 shots in the first half and shot 34.4 percent for the game.

    Duke couldn't find the basket early on either, missing 10 of its first 11, and the Lady Red Raiders led most of the first half. But Duke slowly got back in it and erased a 21-17 deficit by closing out the half with a 9-0 run. Beard scored eight of the points on a bank shot from 14 feet, a jumper from 16, two free throws and a scoop shot off the backboard.

    "We weren't in a good flow offensively, and we were rushing things early on,'' Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "I told them to settle down and they did a better job, but everything from there on out was a struggle.''

    Texas Tech used a 10-2 run in the second half to tie it at 36 on a layup by Jolee Ayers with 12:46 left. Duke went back ahead 46-38 after Beard hit back-to-back jumpers, but the Lady Red Raiders countered with 10 straight points for a 48-46 lead with 4:53 left.

    A 3-pointer by Tillis put Duke ahead 51-50, and Pierson tied it for the last time by hitting one of two free throws with 2:08 left.

    The 57 points were the fewest yet by Duke in the tournament, but 12 blocks and 11 steals negated the Blue Devils' 36.5 percent shooting.

    "The defense is what won the game for us,'' Goestenkors said. "We went man-to-man early, doubled down on Pierson and made other players became scorers. Because they have a freshman point guard (Grant), we wanted to put her in a position where she really had to think.''

    The strategy worked, as Grant committed five of Texas Tech's 15 turnovers, and Pierson was the only Tech player to score consistently.

    Pierson made seven of 13 shots, but the rest of the Lady Red Raiders went 15-of-51 from the field. Jia Perkins shot 1-of-10 and Natalie Ritchie was 2-of-7.

    "We just don't have enough production from our wing players,'' Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. "Tonight they were 3-for-17, and in a game at this level, that won't make it happen.''

    And the Lady Red Raiders felt Beard's presence all over the court. When she wasn't scoring, she was blocking shots, making steals or getting fouled, going 12-for-14 at the line.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    » Mar 31, 2003 @DUKE 57, TTU 51Recap | Box Score