1:30 PM ET, December 4, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Duke knew the Texas Longhorns were better than their 41-point loss to Tennessee a few days earlier.Good enough to give the Blue Devils (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today, No. 1 AP) a pretty good fight, just not good enough -- or experienced enough -- to win it.Monique Currie scored 23 points and Duke survived a surge from Texas' (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) new freshmen-heavy lineup for a tough 84-70 victory Sunday.Mistie Williams added 14 points and Alison Bales had 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils (6-0), who got their stiffest test of the season after winning their first five games by at least 26 points.Freshman Erika Arriaran's 16 points led the Longhorns (3-3), whose upset bid ended with 3-of-16 shooting and seven turnovers over the last nine minutes after forging a 61-61 tie that had the home crowd of 8,394 buzzing."I knew they were going to come out fighting and battling and they did," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "When you've got a team with such tradition and at home, it's a very dangerous combination."After a 102-61 loss at No. 2 Tennessee last Thursday, Texas was facing the back end of a tough 1-2 punch against the Blue Devils and Longhorns coach Jody Conradt decided to start three freshmen from her top-ranked recruiting class.Earnesia Williams and Carla Cortijo got their first career starts and the energetic duo joined Arriaran in making a big push for an early lead and keeping it longer than the Blue Devils may have expected."I started the people who competed the hardest against Tennessee," Conradt said. "I didn't care what class they were in."Unlike at Tennessee, where Texas fell into a 17-0 hole and never recovered, Williams scored four of Texas' first six points, Arriaran hit consecutive 3-pointers and Cortijo had five rebounds and two assists as the Longhorns pushed a quick tempo against the Blue Devils and held the lead for most of the first half.Duke committed 12 turnovers before finally taking a 39-38 lead into halftime when Bales put back Currie's miss with two seconds left."They had to let their fans know, and let themselves know, they're a better team than (at Tennessee)," Mistie Williams said.Tempers flared in the second when Currie was whistled for an intentional foul on a hard screen on Earnesia Williams, who was then hit with a technical foul for her retaliation. Williams hit two free throws and Texas cut a seven-point Duke lead to 57-55 when Arriaran hit a 3-pointer from the left corner.The Longhorns tied it 61-61 with Cortijo's crosscourt pass to Tiffany Jackson for a layup before Duke answered with a layup and 3-pointer by Wanisha Smith.That's when the Longhorns started mishandling the ball and the Blue Devils started working it inside to take advantage of their bigger lineup. Duke outscored Texas 44-28 in the paint.Mistie Williams scored four straight points that pushed the lead to 74-65, and Texas lost Earnesia Williams when she twisted her right knee and left the game with five minutes left.Texas, which shot 56 percent from the floor in the first half, fell far off that pace after halftime, shooting 31 percent in the second. Cortijo, who had three assists, struggled against the Duke defense down the stretch and had six of Texas' 23 turnovers."We needed to settle down a little bit, run our sets and get a stop one at a time," said Currie, a senior. "I think our experience helped."
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