COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- The bench is deep, the defense is sound
and several players can score.
Coach Gail Goestenkors believes this might be her best team at
Duke, and no one on No. 6 Maryland could dispute that assertion
Lindsey Harding and Chante Black each scored 19 points, and the
second-ranked Blue Devils remained unbeaten by cruising to an 86-68
Duke (14-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) built a 17-point
halftime lead in its 13th straight win over the Terrapins. Monique
Currie scored 18 for the Blue Devils, off to the second-best start
in school history.
Goestenkors has won five ACC titles and been to the Final Four
in three of the last seven years, but she can't remember having a
roster with so much skill from top to bottom.
"This could be our best team ever," she said. "We've had
talent before, but now we have more experienced talent, and we've
certainly got more depth than we've ever had before."
Alison Bales, Duke's leading rebounder, picked up her third foul
with just more than eight minutes elapsed. The 6-foot-7 center did
not return until the second half and finished with seven points and
four rebounds in 14 minutes.
It didn't matter, because the Blue Devils still outrebounded
Maryland 27-26. In a matchup between the two highest-scoring teams
in NCAA women's basketball, the difference was Duke's defense.
Maryland's leading rebounder, center Crystal Langhorne, didn't
grab one errant shot off the boards. The Blue Devils forced 24
turnovers, including 14 in the decisive first half.
"We played tremendous defense and they still shot 50 percent,
but I think the turnovers were huge for us," Goestenkors said.
"We got our hands on a lot of their passes, and that was the
difference for us. We needed those extra possessions."
Maryland (14-2, 1-1) never got closer than nine points in the
second half. It was 68-58 before Duke used a 10-0 run to erase any
Kristi Toliver and Shay Doron had 12 points apiece for the
Terrapins, who fell well below their season average of 87.5 points.
Maryland had won 10 straight since its only other loss, 80-75
against top-ranked Tennessee in November.
"Duke has a tremendous amount of depth. They can defend and
score well, and they just play a complete game," Terrapins coach
Brenda Frese said. "This was a credit to their defense."
The game drew 16,097 fans, the second-largest crowd to watch an
ACC women's game behind the 17,243 at last year's Duke-Maryland
matchup. The Terrapins have hosted the four biggest crowds in
conference history, three of them against Duke.
The Blue Devils played the spoiler's role in a 60-49 win last
February, and this game was no different. The nation's top-scoring
team went 19-for-31 in the first half and never trailed after an
8-0 run made it 18-11.
Harding was 6-for-6 from the floor before halftime and Black
made all five of her field-goal attempts.
"We still have some areas of our game to improve upon, but each
game helps us prepare for the next," Black said. "This game
definitely boosted my confidence for the next game."
Even though Bales played only three minutes in the first half,
the Blue Devils led 48-31 at the break. Maryland made its first
five shots, then went 6-for-19 in falling behind by double digits
for only the second time this season.
"Our goal is to win a championship, and losing a game or two
isn't going to stop us from achieving that goal," Doron said. "We
can learn from a game like this."