7:00 PM ET, February 10, 2006
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Even a so-so performance by second-ranked Duke might have been enough to lift the Blue Devils back to No. 1.Mistie Williams scored 16 points to help offset a bad game for leading scorer Monique Currie and the Blue Devils beat Virginia 88-65 on Friday night to move into a three-way tie atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.Lindsey Harding added 12 points and five assists for the Blue Devils (22-1, 9-1), who are tied with top-ranked North Carolina and sixth-ranked Maryland in the league standings. The Terrapins beat the Tar Heels in overtime on Thursday night, opening the door for Duke to move into the top spot in next week's rankings and adding even more significance to Monday's Maryland-Duke matchup."It's always nice to be No. 1," Williams said. "But something we're constantly striving for is to be No. 1 at the end of the season. We're just focused on conference play right now."The Blue Devils were ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll and held that spot for two weeks afterward before Tennessee overtook them in the rankings. The Blue Devils later beat the Lady Vols in a 1-vs-2 matchup that would have restored Duke to its preseason perch.But the Blue Devils never made it there, losing to North Carolina on Jan. 29, the day before the next poll's release. That put the Tar Heels at No. 1 for the first time in school history with Duke remaining No. 2.Now, it could be Duke's turn to be at the top again -- even if the performance against the Cavaliers (13-9, 2-8) wasn't the most impressive way to get there.Duke looked flat for stretches and got a shaky performance from Currie, a preseason All-American. Currie had a career-low two points on 1-for-9 shooting with five turnovers, marking just the third time she failed to score in double figures all season. Her previous low was four points set four times during her first two seasons.Yet the Blue Devils were in no danger of losing to Virginia for the first time in six years. Duke twice led by 23 points after the break, shooting 18-for-25 in the second half and 58 percent for the game while getting a balanced all-around effort that made up for Currie's struggles.Williams, a 6-foot-3 senior, led the way by going 8-for-9 with eight rebounds. She got plenty of help inside from 6-5 sophomore Chante Black (11 points, four blocks) and 6-7 junior Alison Bales (eight points, 11 rebounds, three blocks).Freshman Abby Waner also chipped in with 14 points, including two 3-pointers."We can usually count on (Currie) for her consistency," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Tonight she had one of those nights that every player has, and I think it's a tribute to the depth and strength of our team that we have other players who can step forward."Behind Williams, Black and Bales, Duke took a 36-20 advantage in points in the paint and a 46-26 edge on the boards.Virginia had four players in double figures, led by Sharnee Zoll's 20 points. But the Cavaliers shot 35 percent to lose their fifth straight game overall and 11th straight in the series."I think our post game tonight defensively just was not doing a very good job at all," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "It's just a night where it should've been a closer game and we should've done a better job."We had four people come to play tonight and didn't get much else."Williams had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first half to help the Blue Devils to a 37-25 lead at the break. Virginia came out of halftime with its best run, getting 3-pointers from Brenna McGuire and Zoll along with a pair of scores from Siedah Williams that made it 41-35 with 18:10 left.Virginia had a chance to inch even closer but came away empty when Zoll missed on its next possession. Black pulled down the rebound and got it to Harding, who rushed upcourt and found Williams inside for a score.Harding followed by intercepting a pass by Williams and racing in for the layup and a 10-point lead with 17:09 left. Duke gradually increased the margin, taking a 71-48 lead on a four-point play from Jessica Foley with 8:20 left.
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||22-61 (.361)||34-57 (.596)|
|3P Made-Attempted||6-12 (.500)||5-9 (.556)|
|FT Made-Attempted||15-23 (.652)||15-20 (.750)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||20 (0/0)|