Currie keeps Duke perfect, showdown with Lady Vols looms

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Finally, No. 2 Duke can think about
top-ranked Tennessee.

Monique Currie scored 20 points to lead the Blue Devils past
North Carolina State 77-57 on Thursday night in their final game
before hosting the Lady Vols in a matchup that has loomed on the
schedule since the preseason.

Chante Black added 11 points while Lindsey Harding had 10 for
the Blue Devils (18-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won
17 of 20 meetings against N.C. State, including the past nine. Duke
hasn't lost to the Wolfpack (11-6, 2-3) at Cameron Indoor Stadium
in a decade.

Duke remained one of the nation's three unbeaten teams, along
with Tennessee and North Carolina (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today; No. 4 AP). And now, after
making it through a run of seven games in 17 days, the Blue Devils
can talk about playing the Lady Vols on Monday in a game that has
been sold out for two weeks.

"We try not to look too far ahead," Currie said. "But now the
game is finally here and we can focus on the big game everyone has
been talking about, that we've been looking forward to."

After that game, the Blue Devils travel to Clemson before
hosting the rival Tar Heels to close the month.

Thursday's win was a good way to go into that stretch. The Blue
Devils turned in a balanced offensive effort, with all 11 players
scoring and eight playing at least 17 minutes. Duke also used its
athleticism and aggressive defense to frustrate the Wolfpack,
getting 11 blocks and 12 steals while holding N.C. State to
37-percent shooting.

"I think we're very comfortable with [the rotation] now and I
think our players are becoming much more efficient," Duke coach
Gail Goestenkors said. "[Currie] was just very efficient with her
minutes and I think part of it is because she's able to stay fresh.
And I think we wear people down that way as well."

The Blue Devils led by 12 at halftime, then held off a Wolfpack
rally early in the second half and pushed the lead to as many as 23
points late.

"I still think this is Duke's best team that they've had,"
Wolfpack coach Kay Yow said. "They've got a lot of pieces. They
play with a lot of confidence. That's one of the factors. I just
think we didn't play with the same kind of confidence tonight."

N.C. State fell behind by as many as 16 points in the first
half, but had its best surge of the game coming out of halftime.
Billie McDowell and Marquetta Dickens hit 3-pointers while Tiffany
Stansbury -- the team's leading scorer who played just 7 first-half
minutes due to foul trouble -- scored a pair of baskets to help the
Wolfpack close the gap to 43-39 with 15:38 left.

But the Blue Devils answered with their own spurt, scoring on
nine of their next 11 possessions to start a 28-9 run that put it
away. And they got contributions from throughout their lineup.

Currie started the spurt with a jumper from the right wing,
while Harding had a layup and assisted on consecutive scores from
Alison Bales that pushed the lead to 54-41. Currie later hit a
3-pointer and assisted on another Bales score that made it 61-46, a
lead that gradually increased to 71-48 when Harding found Wanisha
Smith for a transition layup with 5:19 left.

N.C. State fell behind early when Stansbury and Khadijah
Whittington each picked up two quick fouls, limiting them to a
combined 15 first-half minutes. McDowell and 6-foot-7 reserve
Gillian Goring did their best to keep the Wolfpack in it, scoring
19 of the team's last 20 points of the half.

But Duke -- behind Currie's nine points -- had five players with
at least five points and went 9-for-10 at the free-throw line to
take a 39-27 lead at the break.

McDowell scored 14 points to lead the Wolfpack, while Goring had
12 points and seven rebounds. Stansbury, who came in averaging 14
points and 12 rebounds, finished with eight points and three

"With them getting in foul trouble, we as a team feel as if it
affected us because they can't go as aggressive as they can,"
McDowell said. "[Goring] stepped up, but she couldn't do it by
herself down there, so we really need to work on staying out of
foul trouble."