1:00 PM ET, January 30, 2005
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Three games against ranked opponents in one week is a tough test, particularly for a team with only eight players.A close victory Sunday likely won't be enough to help Duke escape the challenging stretch with a top ranking.Monique Currie converted a go-ahead three-point play with 38 seconds left and finished with 18 points, leading the Blue Devils (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 1 AP) past North Carolina State (No. 25 AP) 52-49. Marquetta Dickens missed a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer that would have tied it for the Wolfpack."It was a battle from the get-go, and I told my team that I'm just very proud," Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors said. "This was not a pretty game, but you just have to grind it out."Mistie Williams added 11 points for Duke (20-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), which lost earlier in the week at North Carolina (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) and then rallied for a narrow victory over Maryland (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP).Williams went 1-for-2 at the line with 15.6 seconds left to give the Blue Devils a three-point lead. N.C. State (15-5, 4-3) patiently worked the ball to Dickens, and her open look from a couple feet beyond the arc bounced off the back of the rim."I told the team before this game, even, and it holds true after, that every team and every individual goes through a serious of ups and downs throughout a season," Goestenkors said. "It's not just a steady climb to the top. I'm not worried about this team."Dickens had 15 points and teammate Tiffany Stansbury scored 13. The Wolfpack's return to the AP Top 25 after a three-year absence might not last, since they got in by a single vote last week."We gave ourselves a chance to win the game, and then Currie just made an incredible shot," N.C. State coach Kay Yow said. "What can you say when that happens? It's a tough loss to play that hard, then to lose it at the end on a shot like that."Duke used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to seemingly take control at 42-30. A layup by Stansbury later cut the margin to eight, and Kendra Bell's first 3 of the game made it 44-37.N.C. State still trailed by seven when Williams scored from in close before Stansbury started a rally with two free throws. Rachel Stockdale swished a 3-pointer -- her only basket of the game -- and Billie McDowell tied it at 46 by following up her own miss from the paint."I just think we tried to get into little attack-minded and not be so passive," Bell said. "That was our mentality."After Williams traveled, Bell had a chance to give the Wolfpack their first lead since early in the game, but her runner was blocked by Alison Bales. Currie was fouled and made both free throws to put Duke back ahead, then Bell took a crosscourt pass from Dickens and connected on another 3-pointer to give N.C. State a 49-48 lead.Goestenkors called a timeout and set up a play for Currie. She drove to the baseline, went up over McDowell and banked in a short jumper as she was fouled. The free throw gave the Blue Devils a 51-49 lead."We were running one of our plays and trying to get an open shot coming off the double screen," Currie said. "I was partially open, but luckily she fouled me, and I got to go to the free-throw line."Bales again came up with a big block, swatting away McDowell's layup, and Williams added her free throw to make it 52-49.The Wolfpack bounced back from a pair of long scoring droughts -- including one that lasted 5½ minutes in the second half -- and held Duke to 36 percent shooting."Teams are going to come and they're not going to lay down and let us trample them like the past," Williams said.
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